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Passing Strange The Movie tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young black man who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in mid-1970s Los Angeles to travel to Europe in search of his artistic and personal identity, or what he calls the real. Picaresque misadventures with sex, drugs, politics, and art await him in far-out Amsterdam and hyper-militant Berlin. His eyes are opened ever wider, even revealing what he left behind. An absolutely superb cast, ably supported by sparing (but pitch-perfect) costumes, design, and stagecraft, bring to life the emotionally charged story with its astounding original music, narrated and overseen by Stew himself. Lee s multicamera coverage of the event (including backstage scenes) involves the audience in not only the text but the electricity of the ensemble s onstage adventure. Passing Strange The Movie is a tour-de-force of creative collaboration and inspiration.
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The cast is extraordinarily good. It took me a while to get used to the set-up as the cast are initially playing teenagers which seemed forced, but as the play progresses, you can see the breadth of their acting spectrum, and it is full-tilt wide open, especially Coleman Domingo, whom I can't begin to describe how much depth he added with his three character performances (each cast member plays several roles through out the journey).
I remember seeing Stew around Los Angeles in the early 90's, and was surprised when I heard of this Broadway smash hit. What a long way he has come since playing Goldfinger's (a 30-40 person dive bar in Hollywood) on the same bill as The Sugarplastic and other local acts of that time.
The performances are flawless, and the whole experience of watching it is nothing short of sublime.
I am a fan of classic musical theatre, and no fan of "rock" musicals, but this absolutely blew me away.
You will never forget Passing Strange-I thank Stew, his band (Heidi sings like an angel) and the phenomenal cast (they are all amazing, but Daniel Breaker is a force of his own and I am not sure that it is fair that one person should be allowed to have that much talent) for what each has given me and continues to give every time I watch the DVD.
You owe it to yourself to own Passing Strange. Rock on!
Sadly, the awkward performance at the Tony's did not let people see the real genius of the show. Having seen the movie, Spike Lee recreated the energy and excitement of the original production. During the show's intermission, he goes backstage to give you an insight into the actors.
Anyone who loves Broadway musicals must own this. It is absolutely brilliant, heartbreaking, and incredibly inspirational.
As I wrote...a work of genius...both the musical, and the filming of it.