Passing Strange Tony Award winner Stew launches his new musical Columbus Is Happening May 8–12 at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.
The new musical, Stew says, is an ode to Queens—particularly its legacy as a landing spot for immigrants.
“Everything good about this country and about Queens was born of people’s resistance,” he says, adding, “I always write with geographic specificity, and I built Columbus Is Happening for Queens and for LaGuardia Community College. To me, Queens is genuine—it’s the New York that I always wanted to come to, and it’s the America I always wanted to live in. I like diversity in art, but that diversity only happens if the environment is genuine. And where else but LaGuardia Community College could we have a 20-person cast from all over the place?”
Lynching, slavery, and immigration are topics in the work, which are woven together with issues of modern-day life, such as the life of immigrants living in Queens today. Students in the cast hail from South Korea, Germany, Belize, Puerto Rico, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Maine, and Oregon.
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“Our students have so much to gain from this collaboration between Stew and our Theatre Program,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “Students are getting to perform under the guidance and inspiration of a Tony-Award winning dramatist and are having the opportunity to watch an emerging work of art come to life. We’re delighted that under Professor Stefanie Sertich’s leadership, our theatre program is flourishing and it is a testament to her work that this opportunity comes to LaGuardia student. And a special thank you to Stew for sharing his talents with our students and investing in their futures—investments that are sure to pay back in dividends in the years to come.”
In 2016, Sertich directed LaGuardia Theatre students in a production of Passing Strange, for which Stew took home the Tony Award for Best Book in 2008.
Tickets are on sale for $10 ($8 for those with a valid student ID). For more information or to buy tickets, click here.