First of all, u seem to hecking cool omg. Lol, anyway - I watched the Andrew Rannels Hedwig bootleg during lunch at school today. (Interesting, right?) The quality towards the end was very poor, so I couldn't really make out the audio. Does Hedwig die, or is it more symbolical. Analysis? Idk I still love and appreciate this beautiful musical Thanks!
The ending is kinda ambiguous and like up to you to decide
just what it means (which i Love Love Love - I prefer open-ended endings more
than definitive “happy ever afters”), but this is how I interpret it:
- After an emotional, bitter, anguishing breakdown in the climax scene, Hedwig strips off her drag - in a way like one would take off armor. In that moment, she truly displays vulnerability (since, as confirmed in “Wig in a Box,” her drag had become an escape for her - like, through this new fierce persona, she could ignore the reality that all that was done to her and all that she gave up had been for nothing) and - for the first time in the show - we get to see the real Hedwig.
- Now, it gets a little fuzzy in “Wicked Little Town (Reprise)” because that’s Tommy Gnosis singing it to Hedwig at his sold out concert (I’ve seen this moment as the setting of the play - where it was Hedwig playing in an old theater - shifting to Tommy’s concert venue. It then switches back to Hedwig’s show during “Midnight Radio”).
- Also, can I just say that I truly truly love how the play incorporated Tommy in this part? Like, for one, there’s the narrative purpose (John Cameron Mitchell wanted to drive home the theme of the ambiguity of gender and fully articulate that just because Hedwig was mutilated - it doesn’t make her lesser. It makes her different. If anything else, it really makes her more, in a way), but also it kinda resolves the conflict of the subplot between Hedwig and Tommy.
- There was an estrangement there as Tommy was unable to accept who Hedwig was, and he made Hedwig feel bitter, jaded, ashamed, and unlovable. Tommy was the devil on Hedwig’s back throughout the show (you kept hearing bits and pieces of his nearby concert, which continually increased Hedwig’s anger and frustration), and it’s at this moment that he stops haunting her. I mean, Tommy was a kid (seventeen years old - that’s how old I am!), so to see him grow up and admit and realize how much Hedwig gave him (everything, that is. She gave him everything - he would be nothing without her).
Also lmao don’t take this as me being a Tommy stan bc forreal fuck that guy
- But anyways - Like i was saying - after Tommy’s song, the narrative switches back to Hedwig, who is now completely out of drag, and she gives her wig to Yitzhak as a sort of peace-offering and apology. Hedwig then sings “Midnight Radio,” a tribute to all those rock legends that inspired her so many years earlier when she was Hansel Schmidt, bending over the oven to listen to the only thing that made her feel alive and whole.
- Now, there is no clean-cut explanation as to what Hedwig plans to do next in her life - whether she stripped off her drag for good or not. We don’t know much of anything post, you know? But here’s the message that the ambiguous ending was trying to send (what I believe, anyway):
At the end of the play, Hedwig doesn’t die. Rather, she’s reborn.
- Throughout her life, Hedwig has been living for other people - her mother, the soldier, the rockstar. She gave and gave and gave - tangible and intangible parts of herself.
And it’s kinda ironic that - in order to find her other half and “be whole” - she chose to give so much of herself away. But anyways - that’s a tangent. I’m trying not to get off track for once.
- And with her drag, she built up this suit of armor, this wall around herself. She forged a new identity, one that was delirious and vapid and jaded and unwilling to face the reality of what had happened to her. She built a shell around herself.
- And in the end, she stripped off her wig and dress. She disarmed herself. She stopped trying to be what she thought others wanted her to be, what she thought would make her whole.
- Because she already is whole unto herself. There is no other half. There’s only her.
- And so, I believe that she was reborn into her true self, her true identity. I believe that, from that point forward, she chose herself and her dreams and her happiness. She chose to live for herself rather than someone else.
- And I think that’s a pretty perfect ending, if I do say so myself.