Just in case anyone missed it in JC’s blog about the joys of winter in Chicago last week, we’re doing a musical. Yup, a full-on singing & dancing, bright lights, programs, ushers, curtain calls musical. Just like the Who, Green Day, U…. actually, scratch all that. While Stew’s “Passing Strange” did run on Broadway in NYC, (where Spike Lee shot it for the movie), we’ll probably be somewhere in between that and Ted Leo’s recent foray into musical theater:
But just to review, here’s what JC had to say about this crazy endeavor we’re about to leap into (and why we’re not touring until the summer):
March is when I begin rehearsals for a show called Passing Strange, a Tony-award winning show about a musician who leaves the familiar behind to find himself. I first heard about it about a year ago when Chris, our saxophonist, mentioned that he had seen it on PBS. He told me he caught it partway through, but it was about a black kid that didn’t fit in at home and who goes to Europe to come of age and begin finding his artistic voice. As someone who ran from home the moment he was unfettered I was immediately interested, and that night I looked up the show, found out when it was airing again and caught it. I was blown away by the material and more so by the honest presentation, i.e. no big sets or set-pieces, no hiding the band from sight, everything was out in the open, including the actors, making for a really organic feel, something that cut to the essence of theater, a presentation that said, “siddown, we’re tellin’ a story -we’ll let you know when to suspend your disbelief“.
So I found a new show that I liked, so what?
So nothing until this summer when I get an excited text from Lil asking if I’ve heard of Passing Strange… long story short, one thing led to another and we’re on track to have this show up and running 9 months from that first text, almost to the day. I’m especially excited because with my extended sabbatical from theater I thought that I’d squandered whatever cache I’d built up in the Chicago theater scene. This is a perfect storm of availability, awareness, daring, right placement, right-er timing, and a healthy dollop of good, old-fashioned, horseshoe luck.
It will be the Chicago premiere of this show and, as I mentioned, it will also be my first show in a long while. Even better, while I’m up there narrating this tale of daring and xenophobia, the onstage band is our own Uptown Sound, which means that they won’t have to sit on their thumbs while I get my jollies treading the boards. It is being produced by Bailiwick Chicago and directed by the afore-mentioned Ms. Lil Brown (who is finally back in Chicago after setting DC on fire this winter in Second City’s A Girl’s Guide To Washington Politics). Passing Strange opens April 29th and is running until May 29th at the Chicago Center for Performing Arts, then JCBUS is back in full force with a summer tour, a new album, and a few other surprises that we’ll be rolling out as winter eases its boot off our necks.