Show dates are Dec. 19-21.
A bohemian man on a quest to find himself takes a crash course on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in City Theater Company’s musical “Passing Strange.”
CTC has brought Black History Month vibes to December with “Passing Strange,” featuring a cast completely comprised of people of color.
The show -- under the direction of Jeff Hunsicker with musical direction by Joe Trainor -- will run at OperaDelaware in Wilmington with performances today through Saturday.
Actress Meredith Bell (Mother), dished on the role of race in the musical, what her character brings to the table and more.
What’s the personality of Mother?
She’s basically a direct reflection of my own mother and grandmother. She’s a very stern black mother raised in the church. I think from what I can tell, she’s a single mom and she’s trying to do the best for her son, Youth. Her entire life has been based around taking care of Youth and making sure he’s okay. Even though they don’t always get along and she doesn’t always understand him, she’s always looking out for his best interest.
How would you describe “Passing Strange”?
The story is really about: Youth’s change; coming into your own; and discovering yourself. There are also themes of race. That’s one of the biggest things we harp on. It’s very interesting, because it’s like “Hamilton” where performers played multiple characters.
There are women and men playing three different people at three different times of this show, which is really cool. When Youth is in Europe, there are all black actors playing all white characters. You really get to see race relations, and that sort of thing, told from a different standpoint through a different lens.
What’s your impression of black performers portraying white characters in this show?
For so long, especially now with what’s been going on with current affairs and that sort of thing, all the stories we hear about police brutality are usually positioned from a white lens. To be able to really capture a coming-of-age story, it’s really interesting to be able to experience that from a marginalized group, because we’re not always the people who are able to tell the story. I feel that’s really important to anybody who’s able to come and experience this show and see it from a different point of view.
There’s a stigma that black people aren’t very interested in taking up theater. Is that true?
It’s really difficult for black actors as a whole, especially now when our work isn’t necessarily getting recognized the way it should. We can look at the Oscars. They just made the Oscar [nominee] announcements and there’s so many great films done by black producers, directors and actors, but they still got snubbed. I don’t necessarily know that black people don’t want to act. It’s more so if we’re doing it, what sort of issues are we going to have to overcome, based on our race?
Can you elaborate on what some of those issues might be?
I black roles aren’t few and far in-between, they can also become very stereotypical. You’ll see a lot of slave stuff, or black people portrayed as ghetto or what have you. I think we’re in a position where we’re really trying to push the boundaries of what black actors as a whole can do. A play like this is really important to have within that context to say, “We’re more than just slaves, athletes and gangbangers.”