New Line Theater Founder and Artistic Director Scott Miller has chosen the ideal show to launch their new season, a production that totally matches the charter of his young, energetic and sometimes feverish theater. It’s called “Passing Strange,” and it is the familiar story of a young man in a search for himself and his future.
While the storyline may be somewhat conventional, the storytelling form is mildly unconventional in musical theater terms. The show is almost all constant music & lyrics, with prose-like elements. some with a kick and some with a heart. The score is variations of blues, rock, and sometime rock of ages, with a smidgen of contemporary folk. The boy on the journey is played convincingly by Keith Parker who has a unique, seemingly nonchalant approach to the person he plays that blends with the character and helps define him.
Well-known local vocalist Charles Glenn plays the narrator. His role flows in and out of the story as he moves gracefully among different elements and people in the script. He opens the show with a powerfully enjoyable number, “We Might Play All Night.”
The balance of the fine ensemble cast of “Passing Strange” includes Talichia Noah, Jeanitta Perkins, Andrea Purnell, John Reed II and Cecil E. Washington Jr. They are a terrific enselmble. The New Line Band, a five-piece group, is also onstage.
New Line performs at the Washington University South Campus Theater. (The old CBC High School on Clayton Road.) The space is very intimate. You’re so close to the performers you might find one of them singing right in your face. The energy and emotion of this production is potent. This cast displays enormous versatility & talent, and an obvious passion for the material. It is very involving for the audience. New Line knows what it’s doing and it shows.
“Passing Strange” will be performed through October 15th. This is a terrific little show about a very personal journey that makes a night at New Line a very charged & involving experience.