Thanksgiving is a time when families come together. But this year, the Monday night after Thanksgiving is family day for Strange Freaks — people who love Passing Strange, its creators, its cast, and all the people inextricably linked to each other through the fantastic musical and movie. Monday night is when Joe’s Pub at NYC’s Public Theater turns into Strange Freaks Central with shows involving Stew, Colman Domingo and special guests during two shows that evening.
First there’s a performance of Clear, a new musical experience by Paul Oakley Stovall. Paul is the tall, striking young NYC-based singer who linked up with the Passing Strange crew during auditions for the show.
He’s an amazingly talented singer, who’s been heard before at Joe’s Pub, most memorably on a bill with PS creators Stew and Heidi Rodewald and PS cast members. His show-in-the works, Clear, is the latest offspring of PS, since Stew wrote some of the music. (Paul also has a day job working for the Obama administration. For a revealing interview with Paul in The Advocate, click here.)
Clear is being billed as an “opera poem” that will take you from the South Side of Chicago to the rooftops of Stockholm, from an ER in Minneapolis to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Paul wrote the book and lyrics, and collaborated with Stew, Tom Kitt and others on the music. It’s produced by Steve and Ruth Hendel.
It is directed by Krissy Vanderwarker.
The cast features Joshua Kobak, Yassmin Alers, Chris Anderson and Brad Simmons.
Check out a track from the show on the Joe’s Pub web site. It sounds like a winner to me. Click here to listen.
Here’s Paul’s take on the piece, from an interview by Tonya Pinkins:
Clear was inspired by a piece I was working on about Bayard Rustin. Google him folks. He’s too deep to summarize. Stew and I wrote some great music. That piece went in a different direction (and we are still working on it together) but I had all these songs about a strong Black man, who was gay, passionate, political and, among many other things, a survivor. I began to rework lyrics, pull some songs from my other songwriting ventures and collaborators and create this semi-autobiographical piece about our universal human desire to rise out of our self-created fogs and live a life that is CLEAR. It will be told in a very unique way. Sort of mix between Sandra Bernhardt, Passing Strange, and Mario Cantone’s Laugh Whore. Structured, but freewheeling. And I’ve got the most amazing people on stage with me. So, I’m very much looking forward to finding out how people respond to this “pop poem opera” as I am starting to call it.
Clear, a concert reading. 7:30 pm on Monday, Nov. 30, at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Manhattan. Tickets, available here, are $20.
Then, at 9:30, right after Clear, the amazing Colman Domingo, to whom regular readers of this blog need no introduction, will flex his musical and thespian muscles in a show that celebrates his 40th birthday (which actually falls on Saturday). Colman promises lots of special guests and surprises. Proceeds will benefit Save the Children.
Celebrate my 40th Birthday with me at Joe’s Pub on November 30th. Anika, De’Adre, Eisa, Ari, Daniel, Jon and more will perform with me. Together we will sponsor children in need this year. That would be a great gift. Buy your ticket today.