Great Performances: Season 38, Episode 7

Passing Strange (16 Jan. 2009)

TV Episode  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 410 users   Metascore: 85/100
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A young black artist leaves his Los Angeles digs and travels to Europe to find himself. A theatrical stage production of the original Broadway musical.



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Title: Passing Strange (16 Jan 2009)

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Episode credited cast:
Edwina / Marianna / Sudabey
Mr.Franklin / Joop / Mr. Venus
Rev. Jones / Terry / Christophe / Hugo
Sherry / Renata / Desi
Mom - Understudy
Stew ...


A young black artist leaves his Los Angeles digs and travels to Europe to find himself. A theatrical stage production of the original Broadway musical.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



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Release Date:

16 January 2009 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "Passing Strange" opened at the Belasco Theater in New York on Feb. 28, 2008, ran for 165 performances and was nominated for the 2008 Tony Awards for the Best Musical and Score and won for the Best Book. Colman Domingo, De'Adre Aziza, Chad Goodridge, Stew and Daniel Breaker recreated their roles in this filmed production. Daniel Breaker and De'Adre Aziza received Tony Award nomination for acting as did Stew who had four nominations and one win (Best Book). See more »

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User Reviews

Passing Strange is an unparalleled work of genius
11 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"All this might seem obscure, that would depend on who you are." Stew's line that is easy to miss is a good tagline for Passing Strange. I had been waiting over a year to see Spike Lee's filmed version of the Broadway musical. I was lucky enough to see it during its too brief run at the Belasco Theater and it really changed my life. Its corny to say it, but Passing Strange of art really did affect me like no other work of art ever has. It really spoke to where I was at in my life at the time when I saw it. So Passing Strange was filmed by Spike Lee to preserve the show forever and from the moment a director was announced, I became unbearably eager to see the finished product. It got shown on the film festival circuit to nearly universal rave reviews which intensified my desire to see the film. I finally got to catch the film on Pay-Per-View at my girlfriend's parents' house. The verdict? It was truly amazing and just as touching, but very different. Seeing a show live and seeing something filmed are very different experiences because in seeing live theater, your eyes can wander to whatever actor you so desire. In a film, the camera tells you what to look at. So in that regard, the show was different. Also, since a camera can get very close to the actor's face, the emotional impact of the actors was much stronger. One of the aspects that I really picked up on during this viewing was how connected every aspect of this show is. Everything you see and hear happens for a reason and each interaction furthers the main character's story bit by bit. I was also taken by the poetry that is Stew's script. So many portions of the script just flow because of the lyrical quality of his writing. My girlfriend watched the film with me because I have been raving about PS for as long as I've known her. She owed it to me because she made me sit through Legally Blonde the Musical. She did not get into the show or follow it very easily both because of the way the story was presented (the plot jumps in and out a bit) and because she didn't get into some of the more performance art elements of the movie. So for this reason, I will say that Passing Strange is not for everyone. Passing Strange is not your typical musical. It is experimental. It will make you think. It is full of pop culture references. It expresses truths about life. It is a heavy piece of musical drama, but it is also highly entertaining if you can get into it. Needless to say, I highly recommend this movie and, honestly, I'm so attached to the show at this point that if you've seen it, no matter your opinion of the film actually is, I will respect you.

I just hope that it does well in Pay-Per-View and on DVD eventually because, like the Broadway show, they don't seem to be advertising this film very well...

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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