Book and Lyrics by Stew | Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald
Created in collaboration with Annie Dorsen
Directed by Tyrone Brown
Running Time: 2hr, 30 minute with intermission
"Call it a rock concert with a story to tell, trimmed with a lot of great jokes. Or call it a sprawling work of performance art, complete with angry rants and scary drag queens. Call it whatever you want, really. I'll just call it wonderful..." —The New York Times
Featuring LeRoy Bell (The X Factor), this award-winning Broadway hit is finally taking the Seattle stage. Passing Strange is a young black musician’s odyssey of self-discovery, complete with sex, drugs, and above all, rock-and-roll. It’s a musical, but don’t expect show tunes or sequins. Instead, this gritty, heartfelt show will shake the house—and your conceptions of manhood, race, and identity.
Age Recommendation: 14 and older for sexual references, strong language, and adult themes.
ACT Theatre's policy is to inform audiences of content, but to let parents, guardians, and teachers make decisions that they feel is most appropriate for youth and teens in their care.
Founded in 2013, Sidecountry Theatre intends to bring a variety of entertainment to the stage, including musicals, and plays that have a message, soul, and edge. In short, relevant, provocative, entertaining theatre. By doing these productions, Sidecountry will expand the opportunities for showcasing the wellspring of talent that exists in the Seattle area.
Find out more about Sidecountry Theatre on their website.
(in alphabetical order)
*LeRoy Bell (Narrator): A former X Factor finalist, LeRoy and his band have opened for and toured with Sheryl Crow, Joan Osborne, and B. B. King, the late Etta James, Joe Cocker, Michael McDonald, Van Morrison, Mavis Staples, The Temptations, The O’Jays and more. He also has written songs for Elton John, Teddy Pendergrass, Johnny Mathis, The Spinners, The O’Jays and Lou Rawls. Learn more on his Facebook page.
*Marlette Buchanan (Mother) enjoys a diverse and wide ranging performing career. Her musical performances locally have included Dot, Tin Pan Lady (Key City Theatre), Lily, Porgy and Bess (Seattle Opera), Queenie, Showboat (Village), Asaka, Once on this Island (Village), Nell, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Capitol Playhouse), Sarah, Ragtime (Seattle Musical Theatre). She has recorded with GRAMMY award-winning artists in reggae, country, and gospel. Active in film and television, Marlette was seen recently in the movie The Details. Marlette is a graduate of Boston University (Masters in Music) and Fisk University (B.A. in Music).
Andrew Lee Creech (Youth) is thrilled to be making his ACT debut in the Northwest Premiere of Passing Strange! A recent graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, Andrew's work as a playwright, performer, and hip-hop artist has been featured all around Seattle. Recent Credits: Girl You Know It's True (West Coast Premiere), Trouble in Mind (Intiman). Up next, Andrew's play Always On will be featured in this year's SPC (Seattle Playwrights' Collective) Short Play Festival, iPLAYZ: Short Plays about Surviving the Digital Age, coming this Summer. Andrew sends love and big hugs to all his family, friends, and supporters. Learn more at www.andrewleecreech.weebly.com and www.soundcloud.com/andrewleecreech.
DeSean Halley (Hugo, Christophe, Terry) is excited to be working with Sidecountry Theatre in the production of Passing Strange. His previous shows include Shrek (Bainbridge Performing Arts) As Donkey. The Wild Party (Sound Theatre Company) as Eddie. A Chorus Line as Richie (BPA and SMT). He has previously been seen in Scrooge (SMT), Tommy as Captain Walker (BPA), The Full Monty as Horse (BPA) and also Johnny Baseball as Willie Mays (Village Theatre). He would also like to dedicate this show to both William Halley and Bob Cederwall. You may be gone but you are not forgotten.
Yesenia Iglesias (Edwina, Marianna, Sudabey) is a graduate from the University of Washington M.F.A. Acting Program. Her most recent credits include Dunyazade/Sympathy in The Arabian Nights with the University of Washington - School of Drama, and Westmoreland in Henry V with Seattle Shakespeare's Wooden O. She is originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.yeseniaiglesias.com.
Kathy Moore (Heidi): Local musician Kathy Moore is a seasoned professional performing in and around Seattle for nearly twenty years. She has performed with Thaddeus Turner (Maktub), Mike McCready, Brad, Satchel, Kim Virant, Everclear, Guessing Game, Mark Siano’s The Soft Rock Kid, an all girl Black Sabbath tribute “Bloody Sabbath”, and many other names in Northwest rock. Both her guitar chops and songwriting are a high octane confluence of rock, funk, jazz and country.
*J Reese (Mr. Franklin, Joop, Mr. Venus) is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in psychology and acting. His stage credits include Robot Songs (in New York), The Less We Talk and KNB The Musical (NYC Fringe ’08); Watt?!? and Take Me America (Village Theatre); Once on this Island and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre); La Cage Aux Folles, 42nd Street, and Carousel (Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, NY); Man of La Mancha (New Line Theatre, St. Louis, MO). Other Credits: Dreamgirls (Curtis), Side Show (Jake), Hair (Berger), Pippin (leading player). Learn more at www.jreese.net.
*Shontina "Tina" Vernon (Sherry, Renata, Desi): A graduate of the University of Washington’s Graduate Acting Program, Shontina is no stranger to Seattle audiences. She was last seen in the Intiman Theatre Summer Festival productions of Lysistrata (as Lysistrata), and Trouble in Mind (as Millie). Her solo show, Wanted, premiered last year at Theatre Off Jackson in a co-production with The Hansberry Project and the Central District Forum. Her work has been produced at ACT Theatre, New York’s Hip Hop Theatre Festival, and terraNova Collective, among others. She is a National Performance Network touring artist, and a recipient of the Louise McKinney Playwriting Fellowship. Selected Theatre/TV/Film Credits include: Etta Phifer’s Testimonial Shoe Kismet at ACT Theatre, Wild Black Eyed Susans at the Julliard School, 24, Kings on NBC, and in the indie film, The Novice.
*Amanda Rae (Stage Manager) is a local Seattle talent whose love affair with theater started long ago. While she has predominantly been a Stage Manager over the past four years, her passion for all things stage leads her to work professionally within scenic and set design, costuming, props and lighting and even the occasional performance. Previous credits include: Assistant Set Designer for The Tempest with Seattle Shakespeare Company's Wooden O, Stage Manager for Peter Pan and Godspell with Youth Theatre Northwest, Directing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at HCC and working as a Theater Educator for both children and adults. Amanda is thrilled to be working with such a passionate group of artists on such a wonderful piece.
Kyle Spens (Assistant Stage Manager)
Lynn Marie Hardee (Assistant Stage Manager for Rehearsals)
Tyrone Brown (Director), MFA (arts leadership), is the artistic director of Brownbox Theatre. His directing credits include Black to My Roots: African American Tales from the Head and Heart (Fringe First Award recipient at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Wreck the Airline Barrier, and Hamlet X: The Tragedy of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz. Tyrone is an alumnus of the Drama League Directing Program in New York.
Jose J. Gonzales (Director) is the music director of Seattle’s own Sandbox Radio, a quarterly live radio podcast. He composed and performed music for Intiman Theatre’s acclaimed production of A Streetcar Named Desire and performed music for their production of Our Town. He was the music director and band leader for Tommy at the University of Washington. In addition, he has created soundtracks for indie films and corporate videos. As if that wasn’t enough, Jose leads The Jose “Juicy” Gonzales Trio, performing at venues throughout the northwest. Jose is also an accomplished actor. After receiving his B.F.A. from Cornish College of the Arts in Acting, Jose went on to perform at ACT, Intiman, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Empty Space, and the Seattle Group Theatre. A career highlight was creating the role of Franz Kafka in a production of Phillip Glass' opera In the Penal Colony at ACT Theatre, which went on to Chicago and New York.
Crystal Dawn Munkers (Choreographer) Crystal has had the honor of performing with or for Broadway regulars Ben Vereen, Barry Manilow, Casey Nicholaw, Roxane Carrasco, Mark Kudisch, Cheyenne Jackson, and Bill Berry. Her choreography has been seen at the 5th Avenue/ACT, Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Seattle Shakespeare Company. Crystal created a show for Carnival Cruise Lines featuring original Fosse choreography. She received graduate certification in directing for the stage and screen from the University of Washington. Every day, passing strange.
Martin Christoffel (Scenic Designer): ACT: Little Shop of Horrors, Assisted Living, The Woman in Black, Alki (projection), Runt of the Litter, and The Lady with All the Answers; The 5th: The Music Man, RENT, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, and The Buddy Holly Story (projection co-design); Village Theatre: Sleuth, The Odd Couple, Watt?!?, Room Service, Noises Off, and Blithe Spirit; Seattle Children's Theatre/national touring production: Addy: An American Girl's Story (projection co-design); EMP Museum: Can't Look Away/The Lure of Horror Film exhibit (co-design). Christoffel also designs major corporate events and experiences. He is a local designer.
Candace Frank (Costume Designer) is delighted to be working with the wonderful cast and crew of Passing Strange. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Costume Design from the University of Washington and was named an Artist to Watch in 2013 by Seattle Met Magazine. She is also the Resident Costume Designer for Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders and recently received the Gypsy Lee Rose Award for Costume Design for Sound Theatre Company's The Wild Party. Other previous design credits include American Wee-Pie (Seattle Public Theatre); Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera YAP); Ham for the Holidays 2013 & 2012; The Realm of Whispering Ghosts (Arne Zaslove); Avenue Q, The Kentucky Cycle, Distracted, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Tommy (Bainbridge Performing Arts); Shrek, Cats!, Chicago, Les Miserables (The Hi-Liners); Iolanthe (Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society); Twelfth Night, Blithe Spirit, Batboy, Wild Black-Eyed Susans (UW); and the 2nd and 3rd installments of Team of Heroes (Annex).
AJ Epstein (Lighting Designer) is an artist/producer working in the medium of Light, photography, film and live theatrical performance. For his day job, AJ is the proprietor of Seattle’s West of Lenin performance space. In 2004 Seattle Weekly named him “Seattle’s Best Lighting Designer”, and his work as a designer and light artist have been seen in theatres and galleries worldwide. AJ studied with Mabou Mines and has toured with AC/DC, Rod Stewart, the Eagles, and is currently an adjunct member of The Joshua Light Show.
Robertson Witmer (Sound Designer) is a freelance composer and musician with credits including Venus in Fur and Boeing Boeing (Seattle Rep); Much Ado About Nothing (Seattle Shakespeare); Ernest Shackleton Love Me (ACT Theatre's Central Heating Lab), and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (WET). Recent performance credits include A Doctor in Spite of Himself (Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep and Intiman Theatre); and Fiddler on the Roof (Village Theatre). Rob received the 2013 Gregory Award for Outstanding Sound Design for New Century Theater Company's production of The Trial.
Lara Kaminsky (Projection Designer) is a manager, producer and designer with an extensive background in mutli-disciplinary project direction, creation and implementation. She has worked and studied in the arts for over twenty years and has a deep passion for the power of art to transform lives. She has worked in the theatre as a projection designer for 5th Ave Theatre, ACT, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Village Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, and Center Theatre Group.
*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Stew (Book, lyrics, music) Passing Strange, which Stew starred in and co-wrote with Heidi Rodewald, premiered at Berkeley Rep and the Public Theater (2006/2007) before transferring to Broadway in 2008. The show has been honored with the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the 2008 Obie Award for Best New American Theater Piece, as well as a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. Stew also received Tony nominations for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations. Stew is the critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, founder, and leader of The Negro Problem, a pop-rock combo from Los Angeles whose works include Post Minstrel Syndrome (1997), Joys and Concerns (1999), and Welcome Black (2002). Along with Heidi Rodewald, he cofounded the Afro-Baroque cabaret ensemble known as Stew. Their works include Guest Host (2000), The Naked Dutch Painter (2002), and Something Deeper Than These Changes (2003). He was an artist-in-residence at the California Institute of the Arts (2004-2005), Sundance Theater Lab (2004-2005), Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab (2005), and Sundance Director’s Lab (2005). Stew is also the composer of “Gary Come Home” for the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon.
Heidi Rodewald (Music): Heidi Rodewald has spent over a decade as a performer, arranger, producer, and composer for both The Negro Problem and the multi-disciplinary ensemble known as Stew. She cowrote the musical Passing Strange, which premiered at Berkeley Rep/The Public Theatre (2006-2007) and then transferred to Broadway in 2008, where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations. The show has been honored with the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the 2008 Obie Award for Best New American Theater Piece. She composed music for Karen Kandel's Portraits: Night and Day (2004) and cowrote with Stew the screenplay We Can See Today, Sundance Screenwriters Lab/Director’s Lab (2005). She wrote and performed with seminal female punk band Wednesday Week.
John Sutherland (Producer): John has had a 35 year-long career consulting and managing in the seemingly disparate areas of recreation, leisure, and academic administration. John founded Sidecountry Theatre in 2013 as part of what he calls his “live the dream” tour. When he’s not at the theatre, you may find him in skiing, or riding roller coasters.