ps notice

Friends,
Passing Strange is closing on sunday july 20th.
that would be 10 days from now.
so act accordingly.

you can read the below in your spare time.

this broadway chapter has been a compelling addition
to the continuing stew and heidi saga.
Our story has always been about accepting challenges.

It started in LA where our biggest challenge was making
every single show The Negro Problem did at Spaceland or 14 Below completely different from the last.

Later on the challenge was taking our weird little curio of a band into the big rock leaugue
by opening for people like Arthur Lee, Counting Crows and Blondie in America and Europe
and seeing if what worked in sweaty little rock clubs would work on the big stage.

Next came Lincoln Center. I think the big challenge during that phase of our career was stopping ourselves from vomiting as we passed all the pro-war idiots while on route from LA to New York. But playing Lincoln Center was big for us. I mean, it’s Lincoln Center, yenno?

Next came Joe’s Pub. Joe’s Pub was a challenge because in that club for the first time we felt like the lyrics were making as big an impact as the music. Even the between song banter became as much a part of the show as the music and lyrics. And that connection between the between song banter and the music and lyrics is what led us to the place next door to Joe’s, The Public Theater.

The challenge the Public posed was simple: write a musical… even though me and Heidi had never done that before.
They put us in a room with Annie and I brought in stacks of paper and we started. Our relationship with the Public heralded what i would call the beginning of the Real Big Challenges period.

After the Public, the Sundance Institute began to play a huge role in our lives and continues to do so. The Theater, Screenwriters and Director’s Lab at Sundance were simply the most beautiful artistic boot camps anyone could ever be lucky enough to experience. The challenges were unreal and intoxicating. Sundance turned me into a writer, period. Without them Passing strange would not exist.

Then came the business of actually DOING theater. So we had great runs at Berkeley Repertory Theater and The Public Theater of New York. The challenges of doing an actual run of an 8 show a week play were…hmmm, well let’s just say that our experiences at Berkeley Rep (where Heidi and I officially broke up as a couple but not as a creative team) and at the Public Theater (where I almost lost my mind) were experiences we are still unable to fully process because those experiences were folded into the broadway experience without much time to reflect.

Which brings us to now. Again, 8 shows a week. But this time on The Great White Way which is quite a different way than Berkeley or the Public Theater. Exactly how they are different from each other I’ll explain some other time.

But heres the point of this ramble: this Broadway challenge, this chapter now coming to an end, while I accepted it a little hesitantly I’ll admit, is one I would not trade for anything. We accepted it and met it on our own terms. There is no artistic accomplishment in my life that I am more proud of than Passing Strange. Heidi and Annie would say the same. We brought a piece of work to Broadway that
I know gave certain people a kind of hope that maybe there could be more to Broadway than shiny buttons, an uplifting first act closer, and a happy ending (Actually, Spike has provided the happy ending as far as I’m concerned). Anyway, I would like to thank our producers for having the balls to put this crazy play onstage.

I learned a thousand or so things about all aspects of my craft, and life, from being up here.
But the most important thing I learned, for the purposes of understanding how I feel right now,
is that I am NOT a Broadway baby. I was born to do many things but I was not born to be here.
So I am indeed going to be happy to have my life back. Heidi and I have many projects that require our
attention and we are excited and eager to get to them. And I want to spend real time with my loved ones, both
here and in Berlin where I live. And I want to book a gig at some really out of the way dive in some deep, dark
corner of New York Town and make a hellishly melodic, soulful noise all night long.
/stew

Comments (18) to “ps notice”

  1. Thank’s Stew and Heidi for the whole Broadway detour…it was fun to experience that odd corner of Amerika through you. Can’t wait to see you in the clubs, on the stages, in the extra rooms and wherever else our paths are destined to cross. Did I mention that you two are not the two least coolest people I’ve ever met?

  2. [...] have a lot to say about the show, but now isn’t quite the time – I’ll let Stew speak for it alone. [...]

  3. thank you for your honesty, stew, and thank you for this show.

    in the words of…you…”i wanna thank you, brother!”

  4. I think the documentation via Mr Spike Lee is a big fav to all and I’m betting it will have legs. Looking forward to the coming TNP and STEW melodies and big rock. TNP… Its been too long! Please post any upcoming gigs and new CD releases. You and Heidi got fans for life.
    -late JB

  5. Hey, on the one hand, I’m sorry that Broadway’s losing a show whose real value will be revealed in hindsight–down the road, PS’s role in ushering in a new kind of musical theater will be much clearer. (The Spike Lee film certainly won’t hurt on that front.)

    Nevertheless, the _next_ project is never going to happen while the creative core is doing 8 shows a week. That’s not a reason to celebrate a run cut short, but it does mean we can start looking forward to what happens after you guys _already_ have one of these under your belt.

    Knock ‘em dead for the film.

  6. It’s been a thrill to watch this show progress from the Berkeley Rep to Broadway! I have the soundtrack album in my iPod and I can’t wait to see the movie – it’s good that this fine work will be so throughly documented, because it is an important piece.

    Lookin’ forward to your next masterpiece!

  7. I saw Passing Strange last month and have been thinking about it ever since. Sometimes art articulates the thoughts and feelings that we don’t know how to express; my deepest thanks to Stew, Heidi and the amazing cast for making me laugh, cry and find some peace with the choices I’ve made in life.

    I am sad and annoyed that this wonderful show never found an audience but look forward to hearing what Stew and Heidi produce next (and in the meantime, will enjoying hearing their old work, which is still new to me).

  8. I’m said to see it close, but I’m flying out because I’m not going to miss this. I know you’ll give it a good send off!

  9. Life is funny when it comes to expectations, here I was excitedly planning a trip to NYC back in April (after a 15-year absence) motivated by a chance to see performances of the Kirov Ballet. I planned on taking tap classes during the day and thought I would get tickets for some evening Broadway shows while there. “Rock’n'roll” seemed like an interesting choice but was no longer playing on my chosen dates and at the last minute, with one evening left to fill, I ordered a ticket to “Passing Strange”. It sounded cool, plus I was curious.

    Well, what an experience! I went to see Passing on the first night I was there, and I was absolutely blown away. What an unexpected discovery, the most memorable of this mini-trip. I came home raving to my friends about “Passing Strange”, one said “but Sue, I thought you didn’t like musicals” and my only thought was of wanting to go back, hoping for a chance again in November, so you can imagine my disappointment when I heard about the closing. What to do? Simple, just go!

    So, as of yesterday, I’ve ordered my ticket for the 20th, thrilled no doubt. Dad is giving me his airmiles as a birthday present to fly in and back from Montreal for Sunday’s show. I long to hear the music live again, the band play, and dance in the aisle to “yeah, it’s alright” (hope I don’t get thrown out) and have the music in my head for the flight home.

    Next challenge for Stew and company – I suggest “Passing Strange” come to Montreal, an opportuninity for a vibrant and unique audience to embrace you and rock with you!
    Merci Stew, merci Heidi, et merci à tous.

  10. Dear Stew, Heidi, Cast, Crew, & Band…

    I’ve been bouncing around a letter for the last week, trying to figure out how to put into words the emotions your show made me feel. It’s unlikely you’ll remember me – I was one of the crazy kids in the front at last Saturday’s (7/12) matinee. It looks as though my letter won’t get out in time to reach you at the Belasco, so I’ll just ruminate here.

    Thank you. Thank you for the most incredible production I’ve ever seen. I’m a theater guy, having done it since I was in 3rd grade (12 years or so), and I’ve seen many productions. I saw “Spring Awakening” last summer and thought “hey – something moderately original and rock-based on Broadway… maybe this’ll mean something.”

    Then I saw your show. I was blown away by the energy, by the originality, by the feeling that came off of that stage. I left the theater not only feeling good about life in general, but feeling good about the future of Broadway. This show is the game-changer – nothing will be measured the same way now.

    Its rare that a show will truly stay with you and seem as phenomenal in memory over a week after you’ve seen it. In fact, your show could be the first that I can say has not dulled as time has passed. I can’t look back and say “you know, it was great but…” Instead, I can only look back and say “you know, it was great. amazing. outstanding.”

    I also wanted to thank you, Stew (and the cast) for being so kind to us. My friends and I are all actors and so we know what its like to have that give-and-take with the audience. We were right there in it with you guys and it meant so much to us when you’d shoot a smile in our direction or when Daniel said during bows “you guys rock!”

    I hope that you’ll return to Broadway someday. I look forward to the next TNP album for sure, but deep down inside, I’d love to see you bring this energy, passion, and excitement to the stage again. Hell, I’ll be first in line for auditions and/or buying tickets.

    I’ll cut this off, otherwise it threatens to just keep on rambling on. So thank you, Stew. Please pass my thanks and deep admiration onto the cast, crew, and band. Your show is THE best thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget it. We’ll see you again.

  11. Passing Strange either caused or solved my early midlife crisis by reminding me that if Stew and Heidi don’t have all the answers, I don’t stand a chance in the world.
    It’s all real, guys, it’s all real.

  12. Thank you guys for giving it a proper send off. The last performance was magical! Best of luck on wherever the road of life takes you now.

  13. WOW…What a bittersweet feeling finding this space…In april I saw Passing Strange 4 times….I couldn’t get enough…the energy, the music, the cast, The ROCK on Broadway, the point of view, the everything rocked my world…I am so very sad to hear of the closing but oh so happy to have been able to experience you and your cast…Through discussions with a variety of artists/friends…I mentioned how familiar Stew seemed to me…I mentioned it to my one of my best friends, eXonda…”there something about Stew that reminds me of Luqmon of FunkFace”…when I saw him in the following month…I mentioned Passing Strange and he roared with excitement and gave me my history lesson on TNP…Rob Fields filled me in further recently ..and the list goes on and on…It is amazing to me that I can still see, hear and feel the energy that was being emitted from the stage at the Belasco…and know that “vat’s inside is just a lie”… basking in the delusion that the show is still playing… I hope Spike gets Passing Strange out the door immediately…ciao!for now…and all the best for whatever is next…

    Love and much respect
    Lisa

  14. I will be awaiting the movie and the next Stew/TNP or whatever project like a kid at Xmas. I just got the cast CD and haven’t stopped listening (well, with the exception of some Adam Marsland stuff since he was in town this weekend) for a week solid. BTW, Adam is off on a national tour, so anyone who is into intelligent pop should look for him in your town over the next two months. In the meantime say hello to the Ku’damm for me Stew … it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Berlin.

  15. Although I enjoyed your show very much I must take issue with your statement, “We brought a piece of work to Broadway that
    I know gave certain people a kind of hope that maybe there could be more to Broadway than shiny buttons, an uplifting first act closer, and a happy ending.” Please learn something about the history of Broadway musicals before making sweeping generalizations based on tired cliches. You’ll find that the Broadway musical is a multi-faceted art form that covers a wide variety of styles and structures. You put on a good show but you did nothing that hasn’t been done before.

  16. I hate to use this comments area as a conversation space, but I want to say something about Mr. Dale’s comments:

    Passing Strange WAS different from anything else on the stage.
    If you, sir, knew anything about the history of Broadway musicals, you’d know that while perhaps not every show has shiny buttons/an uplifting first act closer/a happy ending, the concept of the “Broadway musical” is in nearly every show – there must be some variation on a theme of X/Y/Z. Perhaps that means jazz hands, perhaps that means a second act “showstopper” dance number. Even “Spring Awakening” – the only other new show to buck trends of musical convention – suffered from some of those themes. Stew and Heidi, by virtue of being theatrical “outsiders” to some extent, were able to create a show in their own image.
    Shit, man – if you saw the show, you’d know exactly how they made fun of musicals within the show. This show was one of a kind – don’t mistake yourself by thinking it wasn’t.

  17. Thank you for everything Stew. Just thank you.

  18. [...] Stew’s take on the musical’s closing [...]

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