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Insight: Taye Diggs

Category Starring on Broadway

|by Jenny Bustance |


A Spotlight on Taye Diggs

Taye Diggs

The story of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is one of a German glam rocker built around the metaphor of the destruction of the Berlin wall. When that wall came down, it was the destruction of East and West. For Hedwig herself, it’s the destruction of binary thoughts on gender and sexuality. And now, with heartthrob Taye Diggs in the title role, it has become about the destruction of binary thoughts on race as well.

Diggs will be the first African American actor to take up the blond wig, and it will be his big return to Broadway after about 10 years away (he’s spent most of the last decade acting for film and television in such franchises as Grey’s Anatomy and the spinoff Private Practice, as well as films like The Best Man). Diggs got his big break in the original cast of Rent, a musical that also dealt with themes of sexuality.

While Rent also had a character in drag, it didn’t cut to the heart of gender identity the way Hedwig does. And it was something with which Taye Diggs, as a young man, was not entirely comfortable. In fact, when he first saw Hedwig, he wasn’t that into it. ‘‘I was young, and back then, transgender scared me, and there was this man onstage with a crazy wig,’’ he said in an interview with the New York Times. But he went on to do a complete 180, and playing the role of Hedwig became a dream gig for the talented performer. ‘‘Since I was a kid, I’ve been trying to wean myself off of seeing things as right and wrong and black and white and good and bad. And Hedwig was a mixture of all that stuff.’’

“[This Role is] everything I’ve wished for,” Diggs went on to say. And perhaps we didn’t know it until we heard the casting announcement, but him in this role is everything audiences have wished for.

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