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Passing Strange hits the big screen

posted by Chad Jones on Mon, Aug 24, 2009
in News

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From the stage of Berkeley Rep to the big screen, Passing Strange continues its epic journey.

After having its world premiere on Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, Passing Strange, an intoxicating musical theater experience created by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, headed to The Public Theater and then to Broadway, where it won Stew a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.

AI Vassar 1 49790 The show ran for six months, and just when it looked like Passing Strange had come to the end of its road, director Spike Lee arranged to film the show. As Lee told the New York Daily News: “I am a big, big, big lover of creative genius, and when I saw Passing Strange for the first time at the Public Theater, I was swept away — the creativity, the artistry, the vision, the musicality, the humor.”

Passing Strange: The Movie – an artfully filmed version of the Broadway production – opened in New York last weekend and will launch the Sundance Channel’s first video-on-demand service on Aug. 26. The movie will then air as part of PBS’ Great Performances series in 2010.

New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott was “blown away” by the movie. “The members of the small cast, several of whom take on multiple roles, are shown in the full, sweaty glory of self-transformation. (The band, present onstage and led by Ms. Rodewald, works pretty hard too.) And as Stew, a stout man in a red shirt and a dark suit, narrates and comments on the doings and dreamings of his younger, angrier, thinner and similarly dressed self (the excellent Daniel Breaker), changes of angle and focus illuminate the emotional distance between hotheaded youth and rueful middle age.”

Scott also gave a shout-out to cast member Rebecca Naomi Jones (above right) – “terrific in these and a handful of other roles” – who returns to Berkeley Rep in the world premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot.

Lou Lemenick of the New York Post writes, “…this is one Tony-winning Broadway show that's well worth preserving and seeing.” And Christy Lemire of the Associated Press raves about the film:  “The result is so crisp and intimate, it makes you feel as if you're on stage with Stew (who narrates) and the rest of his formidable cast.

Rebecca Naomi Jones in rehearsal
American Idiot
Photo by Doug Hamilton

Here’s the official movie trailer:


I haven't seen this yet in performance but I need to sometime...this looks great ! Can't wait !xxoo

suzanne | Mon, Aug 24, 2009

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