Nelson George - Author, Director, President of Urban Romances
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Passing Strange: The Great Black Boho Rock Musical
By Nelson | march 8, 2008 | Post a comment
Stew and his band, the Negro Problem, had been making the rounds of the rock world for well over a decade. Like most black rock bands they were marginalized, not part of the world of mainstream black music and had found very little love in the rock mainstream. But Stew was a sharp witted, ambitious lyricist with facility in a number of musical styles. His artistic ambition led him to try his hand at screenwriting and musical theater. I first met him at the Sundance writer’s workshop where he was working on a screenplay about his life as a middle class kid in the Arlington Heights section of LA. Over the year he developed Passing Strange, a musical about his escape to Europe as a young adult and the what he learned about himself and art in the process. Along with collaborator, bassist and partner Heidi Roldewald, Stew has written a musical about the care and feeding of a black bohemian. The show fuses Stew’s and his four piece band with a gifted ensemble of five young black performers. The first act, which looks at his journey from LA to Amsterdam is very strong. Having been turned out by Amsterdam myself, I totally identified with the strange freedom that town generates, something that is as disorienting as it is liberating. The second act isn’t as successful largely because Stew declines to make construct a simple love story or a comforting reconciliation with his long suffering mother who, unfortunately, borne the brunt of his rebellion. That said the music and the performances are multi-layered and smart. Stew, a heavyset brother with a bald dome and great stage presence, holds it all together as the Narrator, who interacts with his younger self as well as singing and playing a mean lead guitar. Passing Strange played downtown at the Public Theater for over a year and is now rocking out on Broadway at the Belasco Theater. It’s received deservedly great reviews. You could wait on the CD or DVD, but this fusion of rock concert and stage show works so well, I feel like you’d be missing out. Stew has created a contemporary version of the kind of black Euro-boho narrative that Richard Wright, James Baldwina and Jimi Hendryx and so many others are part of. peace
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1 comment for 'Passing Strange: The Great Black Boho Rock Musical'

Telugu News on february 7, 2010 at 10:53:15 PM says:

Thanks for sharing the information.Wish to see more updates in the future.



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