Tony winner John Cameron Mitchell joins the National Symphony Orchestra for David Bowie tribute concert

John Cameron Mitchell attends a special screening of the Apple TV+ drama "City on Fire" at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Evan Agostini)

He created the critically acclaimed 1998 rock musical “Hedwig And The Angry Inch,” which earned him a Tony Award. Now, he’s joining the National Symphony Orchestra at D.C.’s Kennedy Center for a tribute concert for the late, great David Bowie.

John Cameron Mitchell will be a guest artist performing at the “Blackstar: The Music of David Bowie” tribute concert Saturday, June 29.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley caught up with him before he caught a flight into Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

Mitchell’s family has roots in the D.C. area and said they’ll be attending the show.

“I used to live right near Dulles in Arlington as a kid. … My dad grew up there,” he said.

Alongside artistic director Donny McCaslin, who worked on Bowie’s last album, Mitchell will be singing multiple arrangements of Bowie’s work and the “Blackstar” album front-to-back on Saturday night.

“It’s nonstop fun,” Mitchell told WTOP.

He recalled a time when Bowie had attended a showing of “Hedwig,” which he said was “very much” inspired by Bowie’s music.

“He came over and was like, ‘John, you got it right.’I could have just died. And he ended up investing in our L.A. production ofHedwig,’ and lost all his money,” Mitchell joked.

Mitchell got his start in theater in Chicago before getting on Broadway in New York in the 1980s. He then moved to Los Angeles, before going back to New York and creating “Hedwig And The Angry Inch.”

“I came back in ’90 — I realized I was a New York boy — and then started writing my own piece,” he said.

He notes Bowie as one of his largest inspirations for the LGBTQ references in “Hedwig.”

“(Bowie) did that famous performance on Saturday Night Live with Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias where he does ‘Boys Keep Swinging,’ and does drag, and he wears this crazy Thierry Mugler outfit. And it blew me away. It was ’79 for the ‘Lodger’ album, and that really set me on my path to becoming the weirdo, queerdo, filmmaker, theater maker performer that I am,” Mitchell said.

The concert is at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Tickets are available online starting at $67.


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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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