Passing Strange

Passing Strange

Infobox Musical
name=Passing Strange

music= Stew
Heidi Rodewald
lyrics= Stew
book= Stew
productions= 2006 Berkeley
2007 Off-Broadway
2008 Broadway
awards=Tony Award for Best Book

"Passing Strange" is a musical with lyrics and book by Stew and music and orchestrations by Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

The musical was developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab in 2004 and 2005, one of the only works ever to be invited back for a second round of development. [ [ Sundance Institute Theatre Lab] ] It premiered on October 19, 2006, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California. [ [ Berkeley Repertory listing] ] It was then produced off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in New York City, running from May 14, 2007, through June 3, 2007. [ [ "New York Times" review, May 15, 2007] ] The musical began previews at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway on February 8, 2008, and officially opened on February 28, 2008. [ [ article, Feb. 8, 2008, Welcome to Amsterdam: Passing Strange Begins Performances on Broadway Feb. 8] ] "Passing Strange" closed with the matinee performance on July 20, 2008. [ [ article, July 10, 2008, Passing Strange to Close on Broadway July 20] ]

"Passing Strange" won the 2008 Drama Desk Awards for outstanding musical, music and lyrics (out of seven nominations), among a number of other awards and nominations. Reviews on Broadway have been positive. The musical has also been awarded the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, the Audelco Award for Best Musical – as well as Best Director (Annie Dorsen), BestMusical Director (Rodewald), and Best Performance (Daniel Breaker), an Obie Award for Best New Theatre Piece – as well as Outstanding Ensemble, and Theatre World Awards for Best Debut Performances (Breaker and de’Adre Aziza).

Plot summary

A young black musician travels on a picaresque journey to rebel against his mother and his upbringing in a church-going, middle-class, late 1970's South Central Los Angeles neighborhood in order to find "the real". He finds new experiences in promiscuous Amsterdam, with its easy access to drugs and sex, and in artistic, chaotic, political Berlin, where he struggles with ethics and integrity when he misrepresents his background as poor to get ahead. Along with his "passing" from place to place and from lover to lover, the young musician moves through a number of musical styles from a background of gospel to punk, and then blues, jazz, and rock. He finally returns home.

Roles and original Broadway cast

* Narrator - Stew
* Youth - Daniel Breaker
* Edwina/Marianna/Sudabey - De'Adre Aziza
* Mother - Eisa Davis
* Mr. Franklin/Joop/Mr. Venus - Colman Domingo
* Terry/Christophe/Hugo - Chad Goodridge
* Sherry/Renata/Desi - Rebecca Naomi Jones

ong list

;Act I

*Prologue (We Might Play All Night)--Narrator, Heidi and the Band
*Baptist Fashion Show--Narrator and Ensemble
*Blues Revelation/Freight Train--Narrator and Ensemble
*Arlington Hill--Narrator
*Sole Brother--Youth, Terry and Sherry
*Must've Been High--Narrator
*Mom Song--Narrator, Mother and Ensemble
*Merci Beaucoup, M. Godard--Narrator and Stewardesses
*Keys--Marianna, Youth and Narrator
*We Just Had Sex--Youth, Marianna and Renata
*Stoned--Youth,Marianna,Ensemble;Act II

*May Day--Narrator and Ensemble
*Surface--Mr. Venus
*Damage-- Narrator, Desi and Youth
*The Black One--Narrator and Ensemble
*Come Down Now--Heidi and Desi
*Work the Wound–Youth and Narrator
*Passing Phase--Youth and Narrator
*Love Like That--Narrator and Heidi

Critical reaction

Charles Isherwood wrote in "The New York Times":"Although it is far richer in wit, feeling and sheer personality than most of what is classified as musical theater in the neighborhood around Times Square these days, its big heart throbs to the sound of electric guitars, searing synthesizer chords, driving drums and lyrics delivered not in a clean croon but a throaty yelp.... "Passing Strange" is bursting at the seams with melodic songs, and it features a handful of theatrical performances to treasure.... Call it a rock concert with a story to tell, trimmed with a lot of great jokes. Or call it a sprawling work of performance art, complete with angry rants and scary drag queens.... I'll just call it wonderful, and a welcome anomaly on Broadway...." [ [ Isherwood, Charles. "It's a Hard Rock Life", "New York Times", February 29, 2008] ]

One of the musical's biggest fans is filmmaker Spike Lee. In early July 2008, he stated that he planned to film the play on the 19th, one day before the show closes. He stated that he wants to document the Broadway production "for generations and generations to see." Renowned New York actress Marian Seldes also saw numerous performances.

Awards and nominations

;Tony Awards Nominations
*Best Musical
*Best Actor (Stew)
*Best Featured Actor (Daniel Breaker)
*Best Featured Actress (de'Adre Aziza)
*Best Original Score (Stew and Heidi Rodewald)
*Best Book (Stew) (winner)
*Best Orchestrations (Stew and Heidi Rodewald)

;Drama Desk Awards

*Outstanding Musical (winner)
*Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Daniel Breaker) (nominee)
*Outstanding Choreography (Karole Armitage) (nominee)
*Outstanding Music (Stew and Heidi Rodewald) (winner)
*Outstanding Lyrics (Stew) (winner)
*Outstanding Book of a Musical (Stew) (nominee)
*Outstanding Orchestrations (Stew and Heidi Rodewald) (nominee)

New York Drama Critics' Circle Award: Best Musical

Outer Critics Circle Awards nomination: Outstanding New Score

;Drama League Award nominations
*Distinguished Production of a Musical
*Distinguished Performance Award (Daniel Breaker, Stew)

;Lucille Lortel nominations
*Outstanding Musical (Produced by The Public Theater, in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre)
*Outstanding Director (Annie Dorsen)
*Outstanding Lighting Design


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ "Drama Desk Nominees Announced; Catered Affair Garners 12 Noms", "Playbill", April 28, 2008] , Retrieved 5-2-2008
* [ "Young Frankenstein Tops Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations", "Playbill", April 21, 2008] , Reteieved 5-2-2008
* [ "74th Annual Drama League Award Nominees Announced", "Playbill", April 22, 2008] , Retrieved 5-2-2008
* [ "Adding Machine Gets Six Lucille Lortel Noms; Opus, Passing Strange Recognized", "Playbill", March 31, 2008] , Retrieved 5-2-2008

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