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There comes a moment late in Passing Strange, the Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning musical that The Man Named Stew co-created with Heidi Rodewald, when the young protagonist—Youth, he’s called—needs to establish some quick punk cred with the crew of (conventionally) radical, androgynous performance artists he’s shacked up with in prereunification West Berlin. Dubbing himself Mr. Middle Passage, Youth dresses in chains and spits out a cartoonishly abrasive song-of-the-South Central about his hard upbringing under the boot heels of the Los Angeles police. He’s subversive. He’s perfervid. He’s utterly full of shit. And the narrator—a figure who understands Youth at least as well as Youth understands himself, and for a pretty obvious reason—calls him on it. The next song, “The Black One,” presents a far more nuanced look at race and identity politics, in the style of a 1920s cabaret number: “Who dances like a god and has wunderbar hair?/Der Schwarze!” You can’t blame Youth, or any youth, for wanting to feel exotic. He grew up north of the 10 Freeway, and he bailed for Amsterdam 10 years before “Straight Outta Compton” dropped in 1988. His biggest problem was the polyester blazer his doting mom wanted him to wear to church on Sunday morning. Passing Strange delights in pre-empting clichés like that. Unlike so many 21st century metamusicals—we’re looking at you, [title of show]— it manages to be self-aware without feeling self-congratulatory. It’s an unremarkable story (young man leaves home, prospers abroad, finds occasion to re-evaluate what he left behind) remarkably told by Stew’s Tony-winning book and by Jahi A. Kearse, the magnetic actor stepping into Stew’s snakeskin loafers for Studio Theatre’s energetic revival—the first since the show ended its Broadway run two years ago. Kearse is an interesting choice for the Stew-in: He doesn’t look at all like Aaron Reeder’s Youth, the other character into which Stew has bifurcated his semiautobiography. Kearse is also more conventionally handsome and athletic than the bald, rotund man who wrote and originated the role. But don’t hate him because he’s handsome: He’s got it where it counts, which is in the voice. An onstage rock quartet led by Christopher Youstra (with occasional instrumental support from the cast) gives us a vigorous take on the score, composed mostly of the late ’60s-to-mid-’70s FM rock its authors grew up on, with occasional funk, soul, gospel, and icy New Wave inflections. At their best, Stew and Rodewald synthesize these influences with a grace that recalls the dazzling first half of Prince’s career. Directors Keith Alan Baker and Vicotria Joy Murray have assembled a gifted ensemble that gives this 2ndStage production an agreeably immodest energy and size. This is the kind of satisfying visceral experience that could reach the musical-averse and renew the musical-fatigued. There hasn’t been one like this around here for a while, and you know what those German performance artists say: “Absence really does make the heart grow into a state of mind which somehow transforms what you once could not stand…into a somehow quaint, pleasure-giving construct.” Word.