Passing Strange feels more like a rock concert than a musical, with the narrator introducing himself and the band and talking directly to the audience. He doesn't pretend that he's not spinning a tale for an audience, yet at times he's deeply connected to and affected by his story as it plays out before him. We meet a nameless young man, presumably his younger self, in his too comfortable life in L.A. with his mother and the church. It's the late 1970's, and he decides to go to Europe to see who he can be, rebelling against his family and country and society. He lives a life of new friends, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, first in mellow Amsterdam and then in the intense world of Berlin. He loves art above all else, and through it strives for "the real." As he grows up and experiences loss, he learns that there might be more to life than art.
|Anthony Manough and Nathan Barlow|
backed by Lipica Shah,
Brittany Bradford, and Meghan Kriedler
I don't see a choreographer or movement coach listed so I don't know who to credit for this (perhaps director Thomas W. Jones II), but there is some crazy wonderful movement and dancing going on. And you can't have a great rock musical without a great rock band, and they've got that here, with direction by Jason Hansen (the go-to-guy for rock musicals in the Twin Cities, and with good reason). I enjoyed seeing Eric Mayson (from last year's really cool Fringe show Elysium Blues) playing guitar in the band, with a great turn as the preacher. And I must also mention the crazy fun 70s-ish costumes by Trevor Bowen.
And this too (from the director):
Artist. African American. Expatriate! ... the 20th Century Odyssey of not only the African American artist, but the African American race, has been an unyielding search for acceptance, a disquieted reach for the ephemeral home. Passing Strange continues that exploration.What a beautiful thing to use music-theater in that exploration. If you, like me, love the art form that is music-theater and believe that it can be more than the latest Disney movie adaptation, you owe it to yourself to go see this show. It's a unique and personal creation beautifully and powerfully brought to life by this fantastic cast. It'll make you think, feel, laugh, cry, and clap your hands. It's not often that the audience of a musical is cajoled, no demanded, to get on their feet! I guarantee you've never seen another musical like Passing Strange, which is what I love most about it. Playing now through May 11, click here to reserve tickets or take a chance and show up at the theater before the show to get a free ticket (assuming it's not sold out) as part of Mixed Blood's "Radical Hospitality" program.