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Born at Berkeley Rep, Stew's Passing Strange Gets the Spike Lee Treatment

I was totally floored when I first saw “Passing Strange” – the rock musical created by the artist currently known as Stew on opening night at its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in 2006. And I -- and all of you – get to see Passing Strange again next week! On TV! In a movie of the Broadway show directed by Spike Lee! Next Wednesday!

On August 26, Spike Lee’s “Passing Strange The Movie” will inaugurate the Sundance Channel’s  “Sundance Selects” series, a new transactional video-on-demand program which will broadcast films that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee captured the musical live at the Belasco Theatre during its Broadway run on July 19, 2008, a day prior to the musical's final performance. The 135-minute film captures the on and off-stage action.

A portrait of an artist as a young black man, “Passing Strange” is that seemingly nonexistent something new under the sun.  A rock opera (of sorts), the show, Stew’s somewhat autobiographical coming of age narrative,  features marvelous, innovative music as it follows  a Los Angeles youth to Amsterdam and Berlin and home again in his quest for art and his pursuit of the real.


The pop musician called Stew wrote the book and music and is the show’s onstage raconteur and narrator. Though he has received critical acclaim for his recordings since the late 90s, (solo and with his band, The Negro Problem) Stew’s exceptional talents had  been largely under a bushel. Perhaps because he is unclassifiable.  A large black musician with a pork pie hat, Stew’s inimitable musical style has been compared to Burt Bacharach, Warren Zevon, Cole Porter, Ray Davies and Jacques Brel.  He calls it Afro-Baroque cabaret. In any event, Stew’s music – and this, his first play – is a thrilling horse of a different color.

How to watch PASSING STRANGE THE MOVIE nationwide on demand on cable:

BRIGHT HOUSE: Movies on Demand > IFC In Theaters or Sundance Selects

CABLEVISION: Movies On Demand > Independent Films > Sundance Selects

COMCAST: Channel 1>Movies & Events > Same Day as Theaters > Sundance Selects

COX: Channel 1 > Movies On Demand > Sundance Selects

TIME WARNER: Movies On Demand> IFC In Theaters or Sundance Selects

Passing Strange will also be part of PBS' "Great Performances" series in 2010