October 19, 2007
PASSING STRANGE announces move to Broadway in February 2008
Passing Strange -- the musical that was a breakout hit when it debuted at The Public Theater last season -- will transfer to Broadway, beginning previews February 8 prior to opening February 28, 2008 at the Belasco Theatre (111 W. 44 St.) in Manhattan.
With book and lyrics by the popular singer/songwriter Stew, and with music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald, Passing Strange is directed by and created in collaboration with Annie Dorsen. Passing Strange is the first musical by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, best-known for the Afro-baroque sound they have patented since 2000 when they formed the band Stew, promptly winning two Album of the Year Awards from Entertainment Weekly for their acclaimed works "Guest Host" and ""The Naked Dutch Painter."
Passing Strange will move uptown from The Public Theater -- where it enjoyed great critical and popular success last spring, including a 4-week extension -- with its entire original cast intact: de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Stew, himself. A band of consummate musicians joins the cast on stage, including co-creator Heidi Rodewald, along with Jon Spurney, Christian Cassan, et.al.
Produced on Broadway by The Shubert Organization, Elizabeth Ireland McCann and The Public Theater, Passing Strange has choreography by Karole Armitage, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, and lighting design by Kevin Adams.
With a score that has some of the most tuneful, soulful rock songs, and witty, thought-provoking lyrics in recent memory, Passing Strange is the moving and hilarious story of a young black bohemian on a journey of escape and exploration that takes him from his middle-class, church-reared youth in South Central L.A. to the drug-laced world of sex in Amsterdam to the art and anarchism of Berlin -- with a bevy of eye-opening experiences and life lessons along the way.
When Passing Strange opened last season, The New York Times called the musical "Fresh, exuberant and bitingly funny….This bracingly inventive show introduces an exciting new voice to contemporary musical theater." Variety praised Passing Strange for its "excellent songs and vulnerable heart." The New Yorker wrote that Passing Strange is "a brilliant work…a finely-crafted, ethnic-minded American musical." The Associated Press called it, "A soulful and entertaining new musical, an original piece which seems to scoff at convention, falling somewhere between the common notion of musical theater and a hyper-theatrical rock concert." And New York Magazine said Passing Strange is "a new musical that -- amazing! -- actually feels relevant."
Under the auspices of The Public Theater in collaboration with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Sundance Institute, Passing Strange received an in-depth play development process over the last three years, through a series of readings, workshops and concerts which culminated in a successful off-Broadway production. As a frequent performer at Joe's Pub, The Public Theater identified Stew as an artist with great potential to crossover from the music world to theater.
Stew is the critically-acclaimed singer, songwriter, founder and leader of The Negro Problem, a pop rock combo from Los Angeles. The group's albums "Post Minstrel Syndrome" and "Joys & Concerns" garnered nationwide acclaim, followed by the founding of the ensemble Stew. In addition to his many recordings with Stew and The Negro Ensemble, Stew recently composed -- to his daughter's delight -- a song for "SpongeBob SquarePants."
In addition to her work with Stew and The Negro Problem, Ms. Rodewald co-wrote, with Stew, the screenplay "We Can See Today" for the 2005 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, followed by a project for the Sundance Theatre Lab, as well. She also composed music for Karen Kandel's "Portraits: Night and Day."
Annie Dorsen is the author and director of "Democracy in America." Other recent projects include "Antigone Arkhe," "The Crazy Girl," "Somewhere Someplace Else," the American premiere of "Belgrade Trilogy," and "The Blue Bird" at Williamstown Theater Festival.
Performance schedule for Passing Strange to be announced. Tickets will be on sale through Telecharge.com 212 239-6200