‘Passing Strange’ review

"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.


The last UIC production of the year is something that I do not believe has been done by the School of Theatre in a while, a rock musical. The musical “Passing Strange” is a “rowdy rock musical follows a rebellious black youth seeking meaning in a series of (mis)adventures with sex, drugs, and art. In his European quest to find the ever-elusive “real” he find his American middle-class background at odds with racial stereotypes he both embraces and rejects. Directed by Jeff award-winner Derrick Sanders.” (source: UIC Theatre)

I must provide the disclaimer to my readers that I am not Roger Ebert reincarnated. I am in no way a theater aficionado or anything of that nature. I will try to keep this short and sweet.

The opening scene, centered in Los Angeles, started strong with humorous jokes that many could relate to, witty comments, and songs that engaged the audience. As the story continued to unfold, it became much more complex and somewhat hard to keep up with all of the moving pieces and their significance.

To put my meaning in college terms, imagine that you’re in a math class and the professor gives you the problem 2+x=4, solve for x. You look away for one second and you now have to find the null hypothesis of a quadratic equation derived from the sample population of a given community. My point is that you will easily get lost and confused if you miss one part of the story.

I did love the chemistry that you can see between the cast members. There were no awkward pauses, no one trying to overact another cast member; you could tell that they were all friends and had worked with each other for a while now. As a musician, I enjoyed the change in dynamics and small cadenzas from the group. I loved the pianist who seemed to take lead of the band at times, but in a great way.

One thing that I did not like about the production was the duration of it. The production started off strong, but after a while, it seemed as if I were watching them repeat the same line over and over again.

The setting of the stages, interactivity with the audience and the strong acting of the protagonist of the story are what stood out to me.


Christian GrayChristian Gray is a senior majoring in marketing with a focus in promotion and communications and a minor in economics. He is president of the Student Activities Board. When he’s not planning events or doing schoolwork, you’ll catch him watching something sports related (#KOBE) or vibing out to music. His career goal growing up was to be Batman. He won’t tell you if he was successful on that mission, but let’s be real ­– have you ever seen him and Batman in the same place before?

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