Words, music and more keep ‘Passing Strange’ exuberantly real

You’ve graduated high school and want to be a musician. Your hovering mom wants you to attend church, get a good job and marry a nice girl from your middle-class neighborhood. Your gay choir teacher urges you to go to Europe, and get in touch with your inner artist.

Passing Strange

I think the bottom line for any memoir is how truthful is the story and how artful is the telling? For a musical I think the question is always how important was it that the story be told in music, and how successful was the music in amplifying the emotions of the story? I’m happy to say that the fledglingSidecountry Theatre has delivered on all counts with their compelling and brilliant production of “Passing Strange“. With book and lyrics by Stew, music by Stew andHeidi Rodewald and originally created in collaboration with Annie Dorsen, this is a deeply personal story of a middle-class African American young man and his journey from America to Amsterdam to Berlin in seach of what is “real”. Although that trip involves some pretty extreme experiences, the overall arc of the story never feels hyped or theatrically exaggerated. In the end we feel that we have grown to know a quite ordinary man as he lives through a familiar and exceptional time of personal growth. All set to exceptional and rocking music performed by an invested and talented ensemble and accompanied by a terrific back-up band.

 

Passing Strange Is At Least Two-Thirds Awesome

by  on June 16, 2014

“Don’t think of Passing Strange as a musical. Most people think they hate musicals—probably because most musicals are terrible, or at least not good enough to turn a profit—but when a show has great music that has a vital relationship with its story, musical theatre can be everything one wants in a performanceSideCountry Theatre’s current production of Passing Strange (at ACT through June 29) is undeniably musical theatre and undeniably flawed, but it is one of the better shows you’re going to see in Seattle.

 

BWW Reviews: PASSING STRANGE from Sidecountry Delivers the Poetic Beauty of a Rock and Roll Life

How do you put on an autobiographical show, known to be performed by its author, without that author? It’s like “700 Sundays” without Billy Crystal or “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” without Elaine Stritch. Well, fledgling theater company Sidecountry Theatre has done just that with their production of “Passing Strange” by Stew and Heidi Rodewald without Stew narrating his own story. And while it’s a little odd at first, narrator LeRoy Bell embraces the part and that oddness melts away as his charisma and talent takes center stage.