New Repertory Theatre, in residence at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, will conclude its 27th Season with the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange. Directed by Kate Warner, with music direction by Todd C. Gordon, and choreography by Kelli Edwards, Passing Strange begins performances on May 1 and runs through May 22, 2011. The Press Opening will be held on Monday, May 2, 2011 at 7:30pm.
Featuring a talented cast, a band of musicians, and a set designed to look like a rock concert, Passing Strange is the biggest production of New Rep's critically acclaimed 2011-2012 Season. Along with New Rep veterans such as Cheo Bourne (Youth), De'Lon Grant (Terry/Christopher/Hugo), Maurice E. Parent (Franklin/Joop/Mr. Venus), Cheryl Singleton (Mother), and Kami Rusell Smith (Edwina/Renata/Desi), Passing Strange introduces to New Rep's stage Eve Kagan (Sherry/Marianna/Sudabey) and Cliff Odle (Narrator).
"Passing Strange is the perfect musical to end our 27th Season, which is centered on the theme of transformation," explains Kate Warner, Artistic Director. "Through this passionate musical, we follow one young man's personal journey to find his true identity and his evolution as an artist and being."
Kate adds, "Realizing the importance of being able to use an artistic medium like live theatre to express one's individual stories and to grow, New Rep has teamed with Brighton High School to work with selected students on the Tell Your Story program. This program is designed to assist students with expressing themselves through the creation of a production based on their own stories and will culminate with three public performances of their production on the Passing Strange stage."
New Rep production of Passing Strange is a New England Premiere. Book and lyrics by Stew. Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. In collaboration with Annie Dorsen.
This Tony Award-winning modern Broadway musical, whose title was born from the illustrious Moor's lines in Shakespeare's Othello, takes audiences on a pilgrimage led by a Narrator who shares his life through song. This soulful journey follows a young man from a comfortable, suburban neighborhood in Los
Angeles, to the coffeehouses of an Amsterdam paradise, and finally to the riotous art houses of West Berlin, as he searches for his artistic and personal voice-what he calls "the real." Experience one man's personal story through this uniquely passionate musical.
Tell Your Story Program: On February 7, 2011, New Repertory Theatre launched its three month Tell Your Story program with Brighton High School students. Eve Kagan, who is featured in New Rep's production of Passing Strange, is our lead teacher on this project. Every Monday from 2:00pm to 4:15pm, Ms. Kagan meets with a group of 15 to 20 students at Brighton High School and works with them to create a production based on their own experiences and observations. The production is intended for the students to "tell us" their personal stories, like the character the Youth does in Passing Strange. Additional members of the Passing Strange cast will also assist the students with the production. The Tell Your Story program will conclude with three public performances of the students' production, which will be held in the Charles Mosesian Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. The performances will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 11:00am, Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 7:00pm, and Monday, May 9, 2011 at 7:00pm. The 11:00am performance on Saturday, May 7, 2011 is part of the Arsenal Center for the Arts Open House and will be free of charge. All other performances are a suggested $10 donation.
Additionally, New Rep will provide Brighton High School students with fifty tickets to see a performance of New Rep's production of Passing Strange on through support from Citizens Bank.
New Repertory Theatre presents provocative and intelligent works of both established and emerging playwrights in an intimate setting that involves and engages the audience. New Rep has earned a reputation for Dynamic Productions that honor the writers and feature talented professional actors from the New England Theatre community as well as guest artists from around the U.S. New Rep has received Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards for outstanding acting, scenic design, directions, and production. Programming for New Repertory Theatre is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Cheo Bourne (Youth) happily returns to New Rep, where he has appeared in Hot Mikado, Cabaret, Of Mice and Men, and Animal Farm (New Rep On Tour). Other Boston credits include: Harriet Jacobs (Underground Railway Theater); Jerry Springer: The Opera (SpeakEasy Stage); HONK! (Wheelock Family Theatre) and The Comedy of Errors (Commonwealth Shakespeare). He has studied acting at Connecticut College and the British American Drama Academy. Cheo made his NYC debut this fall in the New York Musical Theater Festival's production of Shine!. He has also recently appeared in numerous readings of Shawn Cody's The Water Dream. Cheo grew up in Boston and currently lives in Manhattan.
Eve Kagan (Sherry/Marianna/Sudabey) is delighted be a part of Passing Strange! Eve recently appeared as Hester Prynne in the New Rep on Tour production of The Scarlet Letter. Eve received an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard and currently works as an actress and theatre teaching-artist. Eve's Boston theatre credits include: leading roles in How Many Miles to Basra, The Cutting, Gypsy, Around the World in 80 Days (Stoneham Theatre); Talking to Terrorists (Súgán Theatre Co., IRNE nomination for Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble); The Scarlet Letter, The Miracle Worker (Foothills Theatre). Her theatre credits from L.A., NYC, Wesleyan University, and LAMDA include: leading roles in Equus, The House of Yes, The Little Foxes, The Sisters Rosensweig, Women and Wallace, and Twelfth Night. Eve appeared in the film The Notebook, and several television series including: Alias, The L Word, The Parkers, and Colombo Likes the Nightlife.
Cliff Odle (Narrator) Although Passing Strange is Cliff's first role with New Rep, he's worked around the New England area for some time. His other roles have included: Uncle Jim/Mr. Prothero in A Child's Christmas in Wales, Duke Feria in Don Carlos, Master Brackett in The Scarlet Letter (GAMM Theatre); Rev. Henry Evans in The Good Negro, Pontius Pilate in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Herbert Collins in 101: Within the Veil (Company One); Fred/State Cop in Brendan, Mister in King Hedley II (Huntington Theatre Company); Troy in Fences (Up You Mighty Race); Lyons in Fences (Jukwaa Mazoa); and Carl in Dirty Hearts (RCT). He holds an MFA in playwriting from Boston University. His plays have been featured in festivals on both east and west coasts. These include: The Delicate Art of Customer Service (Jersey Voices), Lost Tempo (reading Boston University), Motel Therapy (Boston Theatre Marathon), Running the Bulls (New Urban Theatre Lab), and The Ahern Fox (KCATF Festival finalist). His current works deal with race and New Jersey politics (Our Girl in Trenton), Massachusetts colonial history (A Deerfield Homecoming), and he has been commissioned by Deana's Educational Theatre to write a play on cyber-bullying. Cliff is a current member of The Central Square Theatre's PlayPen, as well as a co-founder of the New Urban Theatre Laboratory. Cliff is an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston (UMass Boston). He also teaches playwriting in the Emerson Professional Studies Program and at the GAMM Theatre studios in Rhode Island.
Maurice E. Parent (Franklin/Joop/Mr. Venus) is overjoyed to return to New Rep with Passing Strange. Previous shows at New Rep include: Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr. - IRNE Nom) and Cabaret. Other Boston credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Puck), Coriolanus (Junius Brutus), King John (Lewis the Dauphin) with Actors' Shakespeare Project and Man of La Mancha (Dr. Carrasco/The Duke) with the Lyric Stage Company. Maurice is the proud recipient of the 2008 Elliot Norton Award for performances in Some Men (Angel Eyes et al, SpeakEasy Stage), Angels in America (Belize/Mr. Lies, Boston Theatre Works) and The Wild Party (Black, New Rep). Other Credits include: The Rink starring Leslie Uggams and Janet Metz (Buddy et al, Cape Playhouse), The Good War (York Theatre, dir. David H. Bell and Craig Carnelia), and Hair (Barrington Stage).
Stew (playwright/composer/lyricist) is an acclaimed singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, first known for the success of his pop-rock group The Negro Problem. Under Stew's direction, The Negro Problem released many albums, most notably, Joys and Concerns and Post Minstrel Syndrome. Stew and collaborator Heidi Rodewald enjoyed a national following and favorable reviews from the New York Times for the creation of the afro-baroque group Stew. Also included in their success was Newsweek's album of the year for Guest Host in 2000 and then The Naked Dutch Painter in 2002. Stew was also asked to perform and take part in Lincoln Center's American Songbook Series. Stew's work on Passing Strange began with productions at The Public Theatre, Berkley Repertory Theater, and workshops with The Sundance Institute, where he developed the movie that premiered in 2009. Stew remains an active composer and musician and has composed for the Spongebob Squarepants show. He frequently serves as an artist-in-residence for such organizations as The California Institute of the Arts.