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A different debut

A new theater company's first play features fishnets, eyeliner and a rock band
Thursday, February 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:47 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just like the streets of Columbia, the newly founded Pedestrian Theatre Company is open to all walks of life.

The group’s first formal production, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” puts a community cast in fishnets and eyeliner to retell the story of Hedwig — who is no average blonde and no average woman.

The play will open at the Missouri Theatre this evening with a second performance on Friday.

“We wanted to do something that’s edgier than a lot of other groups in town,” Christy LeMaster said. “We want to be able to take on projects that gather a lot of questions about queerness and other projects that people don’t necessarily want to do.”

New theater company started by Truman State alumni

LeMaster started the new theater company along with two other Truman State University alumni, Daryl Keller and Holly Kerns. The three women graduated in 2000 with bachelor’s degrees in theater.

“We want to make art more accessible to everyone, be it the artist or the viewer,” Kerns said. The founders are pursuing federal non-profit status for the company, which just became a recognized non-profit organization in Missouri last week.

Play features local bands

The play features the local band Bockman’s Euphio performing as Hedwig’s “Angry Inch” band and costumes designed by Maude Vintage owner Sabrina Braden. Local drag queen Ashinkashay DeMornay, the Radical Cheerleaders, and local punk/glam rock band the “POWS” will perform as opening entertainment.

“Anytime you have a group of people — whether it be a nomadic tribe or an urban metropolis — a cohesion of that culture will be found through art,” Kerns said. “Any community can only be stronger if there are avenues for that to happen. Columbia is great for that, but we want to broaden the scope.”

The content of Hedwig pushed the envelope for local programming. A segment featuring the costumes of the play, including John Gilbreth as Hedwig in drag, was scheduled on the morning television show “Pepper and Friends.” Producers canceled the appearance because children from Hallsville were also on that day’s show.

“After I looked into the subject matter, it was not going to be appropriate with 47 children from Hallsville Elementary on the same show,” said Paul Pepper, the show’s host.

“For me, transgender is not really shocking or racy, it’s just another spot on the spectrum of how people present themselves,” LeMaster said. “The play is about self-acceptance and loving yourself. Whoever you are, that’s important.”

The theater group is already planning its next production, which will appeal to a different — and younger — audience: A puppet show based on “Lucy Spies the Sun,” a children’s book written by Kerns.


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