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Passing Strange starts on Broadway tomorrow nite / GlobeSonic and more

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  • Bill Bragin
    Hey friends, I ve been seeing a lot of dance lately, including an impressive and haunting hi-tech show tonight by Australia s Chunky Move
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2008
      Passing Strange

      Hey friends,


      I've been seeing a lot of dance lately, including an impressive and haunting hi-tech show tonight by Australia's Chunky Move called Glow at The Kitchen (co-presented with The Joyce), which used a really striking, otherworldly interactive video technology (check out a sample here), and the legendary Trisha Brown the night before at The Joyce, performing a new piece with music by Laurie Anderson with Antony on wordless vocals, and a striking back to the audience solo with music (yes, music) by Robert Rauschenberg.  It was a great performance, but what made me most excited was opening the Playbill and seeing a full page article on Passing Strange, which has its first Broadway preview this Friday night, Feb 8, leading into the official opening night on Feb 28. 


      If you've been on my list for a while, you already know how much I love this show, and how proud I am to see it have a chance to enter the larger public consciousness on friggin' Broadway with the original creative team and amazing ensemble cast all together.  It's strange.... passing strange.  Me at Lincoln Center, Stew on Broadway...what's next, a black or female president? 


      So you can imagine how surreal it is for me to hear Stew and Heidi singing songs about getting high before church in between traffic and weather reports on 1010WINS and CBS880, to see giant posters for "A New Musical!" in the subway, on the side of the payphone outside my office (at the Museum of Biblical Art, naturally...), or the side of seemingly every construction site in the city.  The press coverage is heating up, and there are a few pieces I wanted to point your attention to:


      This article in the new issue of Time Out NY  talks about how this crazy show came into being.  (Full text pasted in at the end of the email, if you prefer scrolling to clicking-thru.)


      There are two online video profiles from Theatermania and Broadwayworld (Keep scrolling just past about the halfway mark for this one) that include interviews, footage from the rehearsal studio, and good song excerpts, including a few favorites that aren't yet available on the Passing Strange website. (Keys, Come Down Now and Arlington Hill are all downloadable for free...)


      I want to make it easy for you to see the show, and then go back and see it again with other friends, so below are special discount codes for performances from now through March 30.  Please feel free to pass these along.


      And if you are 25 or under, or know someone who is, there are $25 youth tickets available each night at the box office. 



      $48 ORCH/MEZZ * $21.50 BALCONY
      Tues. at 7; Wed. at 2 & 8; Thurs. at 8; Sat. at 2; Sun. at 3

      $58 ORCH/MEZZ * $26.50 BALCONY
      Fri. and Sat. at 8


      Go to www.broadwayoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=PSTCE22&AID=EML000001600  
      or call (212) 947-8844 and use code PSTCE22

      or bring this email to the Shubert Belasco Theatre,  111 West 44th St .

      A $1.50 facilities fee has been included in the price of each ticket. Tickets regularly priced at $111.50. Offer available for selected performances only and excludes seats in center orchestra. Limit 8 tickets per order. Offer not valid in conjunction with any other offer or on previously purchased tickets. Subject to availability and prior sale. Performance schedule subject to change. Telephone and internet orders subject to standard Telecharge.com service fees. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges. Offer may be revoked at any time.



      A couple of other events I want to let you know about:


      Also this Friday is the next installment of GlobeSonic Sound System's monthly residency at Drom, this time with a live set featuring Brooklyn 's kings of psychedelic surf cumbia, Chicha Libre.  Since I'll be uptown checking out the first preview of Passing Strange, I won't be spinning this night unless I can get down there late, but Fabian Alsultany and Derek Beres will be holding it down in fine style. 


      GlobeSonic's Feb monthly @ Drom w/Chicha Libre

      Friday, February 8, 2008

      Drom, 85 Ave A (5th-6th St), New York City , $10.


      CHICHA is the name of a corn-based liquor favored by the Incas in pre-colombian days. Chicha is also the name of a South American music craze which started out in the late 70's in the Peruvian Amazon. Cumbias amazonicas, as they were first called, were loosely inspired by Colombian accordion-driven cumbias but soon incorporated the distinctive sounds of Andean melodies, some Cuban son, and the psychedelic sounds of surf guitars, farfisa organs and moog synthesizers. The group draws its personnel from Barbes regulars Bebe Eiffel, One Ring Zero and Las Rubias del Norte.



      On Saturday night, the Brazilian percussion madman Cyro Baptista will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Beat the Donkey, proving that Carnival isn't over yet.  I had the pleasure of presenting them at Central Park SummerStage in their early days, at Joe's Pub (where you should go see the brilliant Jill Sobule tonight and globalFEST, and even got to dj with them once at Southpaw, and I encourage you to check out the show.





      BEAT THE DONKEY and many surprise guests!

      Hailed by The New York Times as “a Brazilian carnival crossed with Lower East Side performance art . . . wild, vivid entertainment,” Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey is more than just a band. It’s a multicultural, polyphonic, genre-defying ensemble that blends a bewitching stage stew of untamed percussion, tap dance, martial arts, samba, jazz, rock, funk, and sometimes even the kitchen sink. Keep your Mardi Gras going with this wild, unstoppable party.


      Saturday, February 9 at 8 pm

      @ Abrons Arts Center

      466 Grand St. at Pitt


      ALL AGES

      $15 for adults

      $10 for students & seniors


      for tickets, go to: http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/140334



      Finally, just wanted to pass along this link that was forwarded to me recently of my friend Tom Terrell making a one-second cameo in a George Clinton video for "Do Fries Go With That Shake", proving that the web really does bring a kind of immortality.  Click the link and check it out. Tommy's cameo appears at the 2:35 mark, with a big arrow pointing at him.  The video's a classic.  






      Visit PassingStrangeOnBroadway.com today to download another exclusive track from Heidi and Stew. "Arlington Hill" joins "Come Down Now" and "Keys" as the latest release for fans of this hot new score!

      3 Easy Ways to Purchase:

      1. ONLINE: Click here to buy now!
      2. BY PHONE: Call 212-239-6200 or Call 800-432-7250
      3. VISIT the Belasco Theatre Box Office, 111 W 44th St , New York , NY 10036 (between 6th and 7th)

      General "Youth" Tickets!

      Passing Strange announces $25 Tickets for people 25 and under!*

      *plus $1.50 Facility Fee. Youth ticket for people 25 and under. Must present photo ID. Available day of only at Box Office.

      Passing Strange will officially bring its "Fresh, exuberant, and bitingly funny" cast and crew Uptown on Feb. 8! Don't miss out on the show renown filmmaker Spike Lee hails as "an unstoppable force of energy, music and mayhem - just what Broadway needs"



      Time Out New York / Issue 645 : February 6, 2008 - February 12, 2008

      Rites of Passing: Indie rocker and musical-theater newbie Stew tries Broadway on for size.


      By Amanda Cooper


      “We are behind enemy lines. We’re doing this crazy thing and seeing if we get away with it.” The battle-minded speaker is singer-songwriter Stew, whose Passing Strange starts previews Friday at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. It’s a destination that the first-time musical maker, 46, and his collaborators would never have expected. Until recently, the critically lauded Stew (né Mark Stewart) was based in L.A. with his longtime collaborator (and onetime girlfriend) Heidi Rodewald, with whom he formed the Negro Problem in 1997. Their rock ensemble—which subversively tweaked black and white racial stereotypes—had a just-off-mainstream sound that melded funk, ’60s-style baroque pop and sardonic lyrics that any liberal with a dark sense of humor would appreciate.


      In 2002, Stew was scouting New York venues when fellow musicians recommended Joe’s Pub. It was excellent timing: Bill Bragin, then the venue’s director, had recently heard of the artist. When Negro Problem CDs and Stew’s solo efforts landed on Bragin’s desk, he was sold: “I was on the subway, listening to The Naked Dutch Painter and Other Songs, and I was floored—I booked him as soon as I could.”   


      That May, Stew began the first of several Joe’s Pub gigs. Seeing the group live, Bragin spotted something he’d searched for since arriving on the job. “My original conversations with the Public Theater involved having more crossover between Joe’s Pub and the rest of the building,” he says. “Not just audiences, but also artists. Stew’s a storyteller whose concerts are theatrical, and I thought he could be that crossover artist to serve both goals.”

      It was an easy sell. However, neither Stew nor Rodewald (who played bass in the early-’80s rock band Wednesday Week) knew the first thing about musicals. Stew sent Bragin a concept called The Hyperion, a coffeehouse-based piece set in L.A. , which showed Stew had musical-theater potential, but the project wasn’t what the Public was looking for. The theater’s then-dramaturg, Rebecca Rugg, set up meetings among Stew, Rodewald and various directors who had worked from scratch with writer-performers, in hopes of finding a match. When the musicians met downtown director Annie Dorsen, there were sparks, and more commercial directors were passed over. Dorsen, Rodewald and Stew all agree that no one at the Public had anything but modest expectations. “The irony is, if they thought we were blockbuster material, they would have gotten a director who would’ve derailed the project in a month,” Stew says. And Dorsen quips, “From the Public’s point of view, it was, like, a total ghetto commission.”


      The story of Passing Strange took shape over two summers at Sundance’s Theatre Lab. It emerged as a satirical, fictionalized version of Stew’s teenage years in South Central L.A. , followed by his coming-of-age in bohemian Europe , narrated and accompanied by the author on guitar and a versatile rock band that includes Rodewald on keyboard, bass and vocals. Before he became the Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis caught a work-in-progress showing the first summer. So when he joined the theater’s staff in 2005, Eustis fast-tracked its development, staying closely involved. “Passing Strange became like The Wizard of Oz,” Bragin jokes. “It kept picking up more people along the way.”


      After a California premiere in Berkeley , Passing Strange met mostly encouraging reviews in New York last spring. But what about the boom-or-bust realities of commercial Broadway? “This is an experiment,” Stew insists. “Can we drop a chemical of us into this vat? What will happen? Broadway is a business of being eager to please. What every musical I saw had in common is literally a physical archetype of ‘Love me! Love me!,’ no matter how groundbreaking it’s supposed to be.” The rock-star approach to performing that Stew embraces, and that the show’s ensemble has adopted, is different—they don’t beg for your love, they demand it.


      In the transfer to Broadway, Passing Strange is receiving just slight tweaks. Though the downtown production included a few fancy elements, such as moving platforms and a large, eye-popping back wall made of neon tubes cocreated by Kevin Adams and David Korins, the aesthetic was low-tech. Rodewald recalls that during first rehearsals they would make joke: “ ‘If we were on Broadway, we’d have a real VW bug coming onstage!’ Now it’s about saying, ‘No, we don’t want these things.’ ” Still, the increased scale will change the show. “When you are a band, you play differently for 300 people than for 900,” Stew explains. “We make changes like a band makes changes to its set.” He pauses. “I have to make Broadway work for me.”


      Passing Strange is at the Belasco Theatre.

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