It’s got trenchant insights into art and identity, and you can dance to it.

It’s a grand irony that you can live in New York, one of the greatest theater cities in the world, and not be able to swing the cost of tickets without taking out a second mortgage on your apartment. I’d heard the critics falling all over themselves in praise of Passing Strange — a hard-driving mix of rock concert and musical co-created by singer/songwriter Stew, his creative partner´┐Ż Heidi Rodewald, and director Annie Dorsen that tracks the semi-autobiographical story of a young, African-American man as he grows as both artist and human — and was forced to say to myself, “Sounds pretty cool. Too bad I’ll never get to see it.”

Fortunately, Spike Lee was a long-time fan of the show, and more than willing to commit the final performances to film. The result manages to convey what everyone was raving about, with an intimacy rare to see in stage-to-film productions. Even better, it’s available at a price that those of us with more constrained means can handle. (That eight dollar box of Junior Mints, however, is another issue.)

I got a chance to sit down with both Spike and Stew and, in a more informal than usual conversation, we discussed Spike’s motivation for taking on the show, the occasional bumps that occur when heavily invested creators turn their project over to an equally inspired filmmaker, and whether the sound of voices lifted in song will be heard in future Spike Lee joints.

Click the player above to hear the interview.


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Legendary Opening Titles

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