Spike Lee set to film Stew's 'Passing Strange'

July 9, 2008 11:56:19 AM PDT
Spike Lee will film "Passing Strange," Stew's rock musical journey of self-discovery, during performances next week at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, it was announced Wednesday.

The movie, budgeted at about $2 million, will be shot July 19 at both the matinee and evening performances, Steve Klein, the film's producer, said Wednesday at a news conference. The stage production will also be filmed at two other times in the theater without audiences present.

"Musicians are the greatest artists on this Earth," said Lee, a big fan of the musical since seeing it at the Public Theater last year. "What we are really doing is really a hybrid. We are filming the play."

Lee, director of such films as "Do the Right Thing," "Malcolm X" and "She's Gotta Have It," said there would be surprises in the film but declined to amplify. "Then it wouldn't be a surprise," he said.

Klein, also one of the producers of the Broadway production, said a distribution deal for the movie had not been set, either for release as a feature film or for showing on a premium cable channel.

"Passing Strange," written by Stew and his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald, was workshopped at the Sundance Institute in Utah and was done at Berkeley Rep in California before coming to off-Broadway in 2007. The show opened on Broadway in February to enthusiastic reviews.

The musical tells the show of a young musician, played by Daniel Breaker, who travels to Europe in search of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Stew wrote the show's book, which won a Tony Award in June, as well as the lyrics. He co-wrote the music with Rodewald. The director is Annie Dorsen.

Stew was born Mark Stewart, but uses just the name Stew.

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