Spike Lee Will Film Broadway's Passing Strange July 19

By Adam Hetrick
09 Jul 2008

Passing Strange creator Stew.
Passing Strange creator Stew.
Photo by Michal Daniel

Producers of the Tony-nominated musical Passing Strange have confirmed that acclaimed director Spike Lee will capture the rock musical at the Belasco Theatre on July 19.

Lee will film Passing Strange before a live audience for both the matinee and evening performances on July 19. Lee and his crew will later film the musical two additional times without an audience present.

The Academy Award-nominated director of "Malcolm X," "Summer of Sam" and "Do the Right Thing" has been an enthusiast of the musical since its Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater.

Producer Steve Klein and Lee are currently determining whether to release the film of Passing Strange as a theatrical release or on premium cable stations like HBO or Showtime.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that filmed theatrical events should avoid being released in movie theaters, however, Passing Strange may be an exception with its rock concert energy, compelling performances, multi-colored light wall in lieu of a traditional set, and Spike Lee behind the camera," Klein said in a statement. "The film of Passing Strange will have more than enough visual dynamics to play in theaters if we decide to go in that direction."



Financing the film are Klein and business partners Ken Grief, Larry Horn and Will Kohane, who have signed on as executive producers. 40 Acres and a Mule is the production company for the shoot with Butch Robinson line producing and David Miller and Janet Pailet are associate producing.

Passing Strange features a Tony Award-winning book and lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem.

The musical which opened on Broadway Feb. 28 following a critically lauded run at the Public Theater last summer features the original Public cast, including Stew, de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge and Rebecca Naomi Jones.

Passing Strange co-author Rodewald heads an onstage band that features Stew as well as Jon Spurney, Christian Cassan and Christian Gibbs.

The semi-autobiographical musical incorporates elements of Stew's life to tell the story of a young black bohemian who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in Los Angeles to travel abroad in search of his artistic and personal identity.

Passing Strange features choreography by Karole Armitage, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy and lighting design by Kevin Adams.

Passing Strange's Broadway venture is produced by the Shubert Organization, Inc., Elizabeth Ireland McCann, the Public Theater and Berkeley Rep.

Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.TeleCharge.com. The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street in Manhattan.