By Adam Hetrick
20 Jul 2008
|Photo by Carol Rosegg|
The new musical began Broadway previews Feb. 8 and officially opened at the Belasco Feb. 28, following an extended run at the Public Theater in 2007. Upon its final show, Passing Strange will have played a total of 20 previews and 165 regular performances on Broadway.
Passing Strange made its uptown transfer to Broadway after an engagement at Berkeley Rep and a lauded run at the Public Theatre in the summer of 2007. In addition to earning a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, Passing Strange won the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards for Outstanding/Best Musical, garnered four Audelco Awards (including Best Musical Production of the Year) and found itself on the top ten lists of The New York Times and New York Magazine.
"Passing Strange has been an unparalleled experience for me as a lifelong theatre lover. I cannot express how genuinely proud I am of the show, the brilliant creators, the fantastic cast, the band and every member of the Passing Strange family. We brought a show to Broadway and, at the very least, shook things up a bit," producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann commented in a previous statement.
Prior to its final performance, acclaimed director Spike Lee filmed both the matinee and evening performances of Passing Strange on July 19. Lee and his crew will return to the Belasco on July 21 to film the musical again without an audience present.
Passing Strange features a Tony Award-winning book by Stew, lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem.
With the aid of director and collaborator Annie Dorsen, Passing Strange incorporates autobiographical 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.
The entire cast from the Public Theater staging of Passing Strange transferred to Broadway, including 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.
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 was produced by the Shubert Organization, Inc., Elizabeth Ireland McCann, the Public Theater and Berkeley Rep.
During rehearsals for the Broadway run, Passing Strange star and creator Stew commented about the adventurous musical, offering, "At the core, I think the theatre community is interested in words, in unique stories and language. And we have found that with our weird little rock songs, that they actually get them and appreciate them. We're trying to bring that spontaneity we thrive off in the rock 'n' roll world and hope that people get that and say, 'Oh yeah, that was like this tonight, and it's not gonna be like this tomorrow.' I hope they can feel that."
The musical's live original Broadway cast recording is currently available on the Ghostlight Records label.
For further information visit PassingStrangeOnBroadway.com.