Spike Lee to film `Passing Strange’

EW.com reports that filmmaker Spike Lee is so taken with Stew’s Broadway musical Passing Strange that he has raised money to film the show concert style. Here’s the short news item:

Spike Lee is going to Broadway. The Oscar-nominated writer/director will be spending part of his July filming the Tony-winning production Passing Strange. Lee will film the musical by singer/songwriter Stew over the course of a weekend, shooting two shows with audiences and then a third one without. (He did a similar thing with his 2000 concert film The Original Kings of Comedy.) Passing Strange’s producers are financing the production, and while no distribution deal has been set, sources believe it will air on cable television upon completion. The musical centers on a young black musician who sets off on a journey to find “the real” after being raised in a church-going middle-class Los Angeles neighborhood. It was originally developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab.

Of course, Bay Area audiences know that isn’t the whole story. The musical had its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Ocotober, 2006 (a co-production with New York’s Public Theater), and we’ve been Stew fans ever since.

When Lee fell for the show, he fell hard. Here’s a letter he wrote on the Passing Strange MySpace page:

Dear Theatergoer,

Can you deal with the real?

At The Public Theater last spring, I saw a musical called Passing Strange. I was so moved and inspired I went back a second time with the quickness. Now due to popular and critical demand, Passing Strange is moving uptown.

I’m writing to urge you to go see it, as this fresh musical is an unstoppable force of energy, music and mayhem, just what Broadway needs.

The creation of a visionary artist named Stew, a phenomenal singer-songwriter from South Central LA by way of Amsterdam and Berlin, it’s the story of a young black man on a journey of self-discovery. But the pure rock energy, Soul, profound humanity and brilliant cast are the elements that make Passing Strange unforgettable.

The New Yorker called it “a finely-crafted American musical.” And New York Magazine hailed it as “a new musical that amazing! actually feels relevant.” Sometimes the critics get it right.

Not the first groundbreaking Broadway hit to get its start at The Public Theater (Hair, A Chorus Line, Noise…Funk), but you can be among the first to see this next big thing. So check out the discount offer. Then go see Passing Strange and tell them Spike sent you.

Yours truly,
Spike Lee

For more information, visit www.passingstrangeonbroadway.com

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