Drama, art, music and other similar types of performing are not just a recreation or hobby but is now a status and lifestyle, defining the very base of a man’s life. Broadway is one of the most popular and refined forms of music and drama that the world ever has.
One such Broadway theatrical that marked its place and credibility as an art piece is Passing Strange. Filmed in the years 2004 and 2005 in the famed Sundance Institute, it is one of the most well scripted and shot of the contemporary rock musicals, although the play’s music is not strictly rock. It is about the life of an average middle class African American who through his music tries to paint the general condition of their lives. It is ideally a metafictional act that through the various shades of emotions, both humor and grimness shows the truth.
The play is set in several places, basically the life of the protagonist by the name of ‘Youth’ in Europe. The play is based on the book by the same name by Stew who is also the lyricist. It released in the year 2008 in the Broadway Theater and was welcomed by high comments and reviews.
If we go into the basic background of the play, we find stark similarities between ‘Passing Strange’ and ‘Othello, The Moor of the Venice’, the world famous play by the iconic Shakespeare. In fact, Stew says the former was a direct influence on his play and that the core concept behind the rock musical came from one of the lines in Othello,
“My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs;
She swore, in faith ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange …
The musical pieces are ranging from rock to gospel, Jazz, punk and many more. The play has won a Tony Award for the best book and had a total of seven nominations for various categories. Some other accreditations are the Best Musical Director (Rodewald), Audelco Award for Best Musical, Best Performance (Daniel Breaker) and the Best Director (Annie Dorsen) etc.
The plot of the play is an interesting follow up full of engaging twists and turns that help any stick to it throughout. It opens in a middle-aged Los Angeles Christian society where the hero of the paly, Youth is seen as a young baptized follower. However, with the onset of his teen years, he gets attracted by the doctrines of Zen Buddhism, a fact that his mother, an ardent Christ follower is unable to accept. The Gospel bad in the Church reminds him of rock and is again ‘slapped’ by his mother indicating the growing dislike among the people for the genre of music.
The nest part of the play is set in Berlin and is a continuum of the life and process of self-identification for Youth. The song list in the play is particularly a great asset and includes numbers like We Might Play All Night, Blues Revelation, Everything’s Alright, We Just Had Sex and many more.