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PASSING STRANGE Musical in 2 Acts. Book and lyrics by Stew; Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Orchestrations by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Belasco Theatre, Broadway - Opened 28th February, 2008; Closed 20th July, 2008(165 perfs. 20 previews) Note The musical was developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab in 2004 and 2005, one of the only works ever to be invited back for a second round of development. It premiered on October 19, 2006, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California. It was then produced off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in New York City, running from May 14, 2007, through June 3, 2007. SYNOPSIS A young black musician travels on a picaresque journey to rebel against his mother and his upbringing in a church-going, middle-class, South Central Los Angeles neighbourhood in order to find "the real". He finds new experiences in promiscuous Amsterdam, with its easy access to drugs and sex, and in artistic, chaotic, political Berlin, where he struggles with ethics and integrity when he misrepresents his background as poor to get ahead. Along with his "passing" from place to place and from lover to lover, the young musician moves through a number of musical styles from a background of gospel to punk, and then blues, jazz, and rock. He finally returns home. STORY Act I The Narrator introduces himself as Stew (“Prologue”), openly referring to himself, Heidi, and the rest of the band, and occasionally interrupting the plot and interacting directly with the characters throughout the play. The Narrator introduces the African-American male protagonist as “the Youth”—whom the Narrator also refers to as the “hero” or “pilgrim”. In a late 1970s South Central Los Angeles middle-class neighbourhood, the Youth begins searching for “the real” during his teenaged years, having just briefly turned to Zen Buddhism in defiance of his single mother’s conservative Christian faith (“Baptist Fashion Show”). Regardless, he is reluctantly dragged to her church and feels surprisingly moved by the church’s gospel band, joyfully equating gospel to rock & roll (“Blues Revelation / Freight Train”) and, deciding to explore the spiritual power of music, he joins the church choir (“Edwina Williams”). Here, he meets the pastor’s son and choir director, Franklin Jones, who as a marijuana-smoking closeted gay man, exposes the Youth to drugs, New Negro culture, and European philosophy (“Arlington Hill”). The Youth eventually begins playing guitar, deserts Franklin’s choir, and forms a punk rock band (“Sole Brother”), which quickly dissolves during a bad LSD trip (“Must’ve Been High”). The Youth saves money to travel to Europe where he hopes to truly develop as a musical artist, despite his mother and community’s disapproval (“Mom Song / Philistines”), culminating in an argument that satirizes the overly dramatic styles of European experimental cinema and which soon merges onstage into the actual journey to Europe (“Merci Beaucoup, M. Godard”). Now in promiscuous Amsterdam, with its easy access to drugs and sex (“Amsterdam”), the Youth experiences his first sense of acceptance when a local squatter, Marianna, unquestioningly accepts him into her apartment (“Keys”). After happily living among Marianna and other free-spirited artists (“We Just Had Sex”), he finds he cannot write songs when he has nothing to complain about. He heads to Berlin, leaving behind an upset Marianna, who tells him not to return (“Paradise”).