Rock musical goes concert-style at UIC Theatre

"Passing Strange" is a coming-of-age rock musical set in Los Angeles and Europe.

“Passing Strange” is a coming-of-age rock musical set in Los Angeles and Europe.


Jeff Award winner Derrick Sanders, UIC assistant professor of theatre, directs students in Stew’s Tony-nominated rock musical “Passing Strange” and invites the audience to stand at the stage’s edge as at a concert.


April 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m.
April 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.

The April 14 performance will be followed by a discussion led by theatre critic Jonathan Abarbanel, UIC adjunct instructor of theatre.


UIC Theatre
1044 W. Harrison St.

Derrick Sanders

Derrick Sanders, director.


“Passing Strange” tells of an unnamed character, “the Youth,” who leaves Los Angeles to explore Europe, seeking what’s real through music, sex and drugs with a succession of friends who see him through romantic stereotypes while he hides his middle-class background.

“This production will be distinctive from any other,” said director Sanders. “First, the cast is usually seven actors playing multiple roles. Our cast is more than 20; this provides an epic-size journey for our audience to witness.

“In addition, I have asked that the audience stand during the performance, creating the atmosphere of a music festival like Lollapalooza or Coachella. I believe ‘Passing Strange’ is more of a rock concert than a traditional musical. Just as the music has transported and transformed the Youth, this experience will be a visceral journey for the audience, making them part of the community that shapes our hero.”

“Passing Strange” was performed on Broadway; off-Broadway at the Public Theatre; and at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre between 2006 and 2008. Its final Broadway performances were filmed by Spike Lee, who premiered “Passing Strange: The Movie” at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

For those unable to stand during the 100-minute performance, a limited number of seats are available. To reserve a seat, please contact the UIC Theatre box office at (312) 996-2939.

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