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"Exhilarating, hard-rocking . . . New Line rocks on in Passing Strange!"
– Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"It's an exciting mélange of musical styles, with seven outstanding performers sizzling across the stage. . .
It's an interesting, fast-paced evening of musical theater with an exciting score,
typical of the off-beat, difficult-to-characterize New Line productions."
– Joe Pollack, St. Louis Eats and Drinks
"The energy and emotion of this production is potent. . .
New Line knows what it’s doing and it shows."
– Harry Hamm, KMOX
"New Line's season opener rocks. Literally."
– St. Louis Theatre Snob
"This production by New Line Theatre provides a passionate experience, emboldened by
excellent performances and top notch direction, and driven by superb work from the musicians."
"Passing Strange is no Sound of Music and the audience is better for it. . .
You won’t find a more daring, unexpected or entertaining evening of theater anywhere else in St. Louis.."
– Java Journal
Click here to check out all the reviews.
The universe is a toy
In the mind of a boy.
And life is a movie too,
Your whole family's the cast and crew.
It's a little secret between God and you.
. . .
'Cuz the Real is a construct.
It's the raw nerve's private zone.
It's a personal sunset
You walk off into alone.
– Passing Strange: The Musical
From middle-class Los Angeles to sexually adventurous Amsterdam to politically subversive Berlin and back again, PASSING STRANGE takes musical theatre on a whole new trip. From singer-songwriter-performance artist Stew and his collaborator Heidi Rodewald comes a daring new rock musical that will take you on a journey across boundaries of place, identity and theatrical convention. Stew, a popular performer at Joe's Pub, was commissioned by The Public Theater in New York to develop this heartfelt and hilarious story of a young bohemian who charts a course for “the real” through sex, drugs and rock and roll. Loaded with soulful lyrics and overflowing with passion, the show takes off from middle-class America on a worldwide quest for personal and artistic authenticity.
Well-known St. Louis singer and entertainer Charles Glenn (King Herod in New Line Theatre's Jesus Christ Superstar in 2006) starred as the Narrator in New Line's fall 2011 premiere of this amazing rock musical, and he was honored by Judy Newmark in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with a Judy Award for Best Actor in a Musical for 2011. The cast also included Keith Parker (the Youth), Talichia Noah (Mother), Jeanitta Perkins (Sherry/Renata/Desi), Andrea Purnell (Edwina/Marianna/ Sudabey), John Reed II (Franklin/Joop/Mr. Venus), and Cecil Washington Jr. (Terry/Christophe/Hugo).
► Check out these cool video interviews with the cast.
Charles Isherwood wrote about the show in The New York Times, "A portrait of the artist as a confused young black man emerges in vivid colors in the fresh, exuberant and bitingly funny new musical Passing Strange. The biography of a songwriter on a wayward journey of self-discovery, this bracingly inventive show introduces an exciting new voice to contemporary musical theater, a witty wordsmith, composer and performer who goes by the single name Stew. . . Part concert, with an onstage band, part book musical with a full cast, Passing Strange defies generic categories. This is wholly appropriate, since the story being told doesn’t run in any of the familiar grooves of the African-American experience in 20th-century America. And if it does trace the classic story of the artist as a self-styled outsider at odds with mainstream culture (as personified by Mom), Passing Strange sets this boilerplate arc to a quirky new rhythm." Isherwood went on, "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... " Hilton Als wrote in The New Yorker, "Passing Strange is a brilliant work about migration – a geographical migration but also its hero’s migration beyond the tenets of 'blackness' and toward selfhood."
Watch scenes from New Line Theatre's Passing Strange
to explore more? We recommend:
Several video interviews with the St. Louis cast of Passing Strange, as well as behind-the-scenes video.
A great NPR interview with Stew and Heidi about the show
A great New York Times article, "Stew in Africa: A Long Time Coming"
Allen Woll's great book Black Musical Theatre: From Coontown to Dreamgirls
Other surrealistic, autobiographical works of art, including Federico Fellini's 8 1/2; Woody Allen's Stardust Memories; Bob Fosse's All That Jazz; and Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George
James Baldwin's novels, Giovanni's Room and Another Country
St. Louis History in Black and White on the KWMU website