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Great Performances: Passing Strange

Airs Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: The cast of "Passing Strange" performs live on Broadway in 2008.

"Passing Strange" is the story of a young African American man on a journey of escape, exploration and self-discovery. Recorded for television at the end of its Broadway run in July 2008 by Spike Lee, the musical is the semi-autobiographical story of a young black man who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in mid-70s Los Angeles to travel to Europe in search of his artistic and personal identity, or what he calls "the real." There he finds he can exploit his "South Central" persona, playing the cool black expatriate-musician-until he learns complexity and hypocrisy are not limited to middle-class African American life, and only love is truly more than real.

Co-written by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Originating at the Public Theater in May 2007, the show was nominated for a 2008 Tony Award for "Best Musical" and won for "Best Book." Co-starring with Stew is an ensemble cast featuring Daniel Breaker, de'Adre Aziza, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge, and Rebecca Naomi Jones.

Video

Great Performances: Passing Strange

Above: Watch the Narrator (Stew) and the ensemble of "Passing Strange" perform "Church Blues Revelation / Freight Train."