“Luke Steingruby is absolutely mesmerizing as Hedwig, with an incredible voice and impressive emotional range that’s never out of control, but still intense and clearly connected to the character and story. Steingruby is perfectly complemented by Sarah Gene Dowling as Yitzhak, with a longing for Hedwig that is genuinely and visibly heartbreaking. Where Steingruby is open, baring Hedwig’s soul and songs with effectively raw honesty, Dowling’s Yitzhak keeps their feelings bottled up and harmonies tightly controlled. Skeptical but supportive, Yitzhak is clearly accustomed to Hedwig’s frequent abuse. The two create a bond that feels long-term and genuine, Dowling often looking at Steingruby with the sort of longing that comes from wanting warmth, acknowledgment and acceptance, which Steingruby’s Hedwig finally delivers in the heartfelt and touching conclusion.
The songs are catchy and hard rocking, even the ballads have a bit of an edge to them, but also surprisingly tender and always well-motivated. “The Origin of Love,” “Sugar Daddy,” and “Wicked Little Town” are forces to be reckoned with while “Wig in a Box” and “Midnight Radio” linger and caress, and I would listen to a Steingruby and Dowling cast recording again and again.” – Tina Farmer, KDHX
“Mr. Steingruby’s performance is blithely self-aware, but also witty in a self-abnegating way, and even that seems to resonate in our minds with the former Frances Gumm. In this Hedwig, a previously unnoticed element in the writing emerges at last: an odd combination of emotional passivity, or dependency, unexpectedly coupled with great dramatic showmanship, that’s hard to turn away from. She just wants to be a great woman behind some great man. But, as both divas could attest, it’s usually the man that got away.
This is actually the second time I’ve compared Luke Steingruby to Judy Garland, but that’s probably just an odd coincidence. He was more like the “young Dorothy Gale from a mirror universe” in The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told last year. But he’s always able to project such likability, and good stories (by their very nature) do terrible things to likable people. Of course he’s got the relentless drive of a 1970s glam-rock singer in songs like “Angry Inch,” and a noble truthfulness in ballads like “Wig in a Box” and “Wicked Little Town.” His version of “The Story of Love” strides forth like all the animals coming down the aisles in The Lion King, bearing a mythology all its own, along with the whole reason for love. Hedwig also pays heartwrenching tribute to her former protégé Tommy Gnosis in “The Longest Grift,” among all the other remarkable songs of this 90-minute show.” – Richard Green, Talkin’ Broadway
“The setting at the Monacle brings a lot of realism to the performance. Although Hedwig is an over-the-top personality in many ways, this production brings her closer to the audience and makes her story even more personal and direct. The performances are especially strong, as well, with Steingruby delightfully theatrical as the enigmatic Hedwig. Dowling is also impressive as the longsuffering Yitzhak, who puts up with Hedwig’s moodiness and delivers powerful vocals as well. Steingruby shows off a smooth voice on songs like the memorable “Wig in a Box” and Wicked Little Town”, and Dowling shines as well both in backing vocals and singing lead on “The Long Grift”. The chemistry between the two is excellent, as well, as they portray a credible relationship arc on stage leading up to a dazzling finale.” – Michelle Kenyon, Snoop’s Theatre Thoughts
“Standout songs were ‘origin of love’ and ‘sugar daddy.’ Both stunning crowd pleasers performed passionately by Steingruby. The journey from witty one-liners to emotional ballads and back again keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and grabbing for another drink. Dowling is funny, charming, and steals the spotlight, which is always pointed out and leads to more laughter. There is chemistry pouring off the stage between the Dowling and Steingruby.” – Erin Karll, Onstage Blog