Passing Strange is a comedy-drama rock musical about a young African American's artistic journey of self-discovery in Europe, with strong elements of philosophical existentialism, metafiction (especially self-referential humor), and the artistic journey. The musical's lyrics and book are by Stew with music and orchestrations by Heidi Rodewald and Stew. It was created in collaboration with director Annie Dorsen.
Director Spike Lee filmed the Broadway production in July 2009 during regularly scheduled performances.
The film later debuted at the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival in 2009 to rave reviews.
In his review for NPR, Bob Mondello wrote: 'At every turn in that twisting path, Stew provides a musical style to match — gospel, blues, punk and toe-tapping show music. And his collaborators — co-author Heidi Rodewald and stage director Annie Dorsen — provide an impressive array of staging tricks, to which Spike Lee adds considerable sizzle on screen.'
Later that year the film was released in US cinemas for a limited engagement.
The musical also appeared on PBS' Great Performances in 2010.