Sheryl McCallum on the search for something more real than real

Sheryl McCallum passes from The Lion King to The Wild Party to the unusual odyssey of Passing Strange

Sheryl McCallum, who played Delores last year in Off-Center’s The Wild Party, appeared on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King. Denver credits include Marcus: Or the Secret Of Sweet for Curious Theatre; and Jesus Christ Superstar and I’ll Be Home for Christmas at the Arvada Center. She was a featured singer in the first European tour of Blackbirds of Broadway. TV credits include “Law & Order” and “Golden Boy.”

  • Sheryl McCallum. Photo by Christine Fisk. .Hometown: New York
  • Home now: Denver
  • Training: B.S. in Telecommunications from Texas Southern University
  • Website: None — shame on me!
  • Twitter-sized bio: Denver native, best Auntie, wanna find my beach, ZPhiB. Creator and host of The Source Theatre’s monthly Monday!Monday!Monday! cabaret at Su Teatro. ❤Spain, 13.1 coming soon.
  • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would pursue sports reporting or TV travel hosting. I have always enjoyed sports of all kinds. My take would be more commenting than reporting. You should hear me in my living room! For travel, my focus would be on best lounge chairs and beach or pool bar service.
  • One role you were completely miscast for: Sister Hubert in a particular production of Nunsense 2. Who knew?
  • Bucket-list role: At one time, I wanted to be an opera singer. So I guess my bucket list-role would be to sing “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana” at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • What’s playing on your Spotify? Kid Astronaut and Bruno Mars. I also recommend Air Dubai. They are a local band and they don’t perform live as often as they used to.
  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I direct my church choir.
  • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I had a chance to witness Viola Davis perform on Broadway in Fences and King Hedley II. Enough said!
  • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? One simple thing would be to expose them to theatre early. Not just expose them to acting or singing, but expose them to set and lighting design, to playwriting, to music composition, to stage management and to front-of-house operations. The elementary-school play or musical goes a long way toward fostering future theatregoers.
  • What is Passing Strange all about? It opens as a concert with a rousing funk band led by a showman named Stew who takes us back to the tumultuous 1970s where we retrace young Stew’s epic journey from the suburban comforts of Los Angeles to Amsterdam and Berlin in search of “something more real than real.” It’s a tough and meaningful odyssey about cultural identity and family that culminates as young Stew comes face-to-face with present-day Stew — and to terms with the cost his youthful narcissism has exacted on those he left behind.
  • What does the title mean? The phrase “Passing Strange” was coined by William Shakespeare in Othello when he says, “My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs. She swore in faith ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange;     ‘Twas pitiful.” Stew once said in an interview that the quote reminds him of a rock musician who tries to attract a girl with his on-the-road stories. “Passing” also refers to the history of African-Americans passing as white, as well as to the passage of time.
  • Why does Passing Strange matter? It offers another perspective of a black man’s journey to find himself. Before I saw this show, I never would have thought of a black man writing a rock musical about moving to Amsterdam and Berlin to find himself. It’s an amazing story that everyone can see a little of themselves in.
  • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Passing Strange? I hope they  feel challenged to find what is real in your life. I love this line in the show: ”The only truth of youth is grown-up consequences.” Also, to look at those places where you may be “passing.”
  • What do you want to get off your chest? Denver, please find your civility again. When I lived in New York, I would brag about how nice the people in Denver were. When I moved back about four years ago, I was shocked at the rudeness. Of course, the natives blame all the other people who moved here. It doesn’t matter. We all live here now. Please be nice.

John Moore’s 2008 review of Broadway’s Passing Strange

Sheryl McCallum. The Wild Party. Photo by Adams Viscom.

Sheryl McCallum in Off-Center’s ‘The Wild Party’ last year at the Stanley Marketplace. Photo by Adams Viscom.

Passing Strange: Ticket information

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

More 2017-18 ‘In the Spotlife’ profiles:
• Meet Brynn Tucker of This is Modern Art
• Meet Gustavo Márquez of Native Gardens
• Meet Gia Valverde: Native Gardens
• Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
• Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
• Meet Meet Jordan Baker of Native Gardens
• Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
• Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep’s Arsenic and Old Lace
• Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre’s August: Osage County
• Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
• Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don’t Speak English Only
• Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don’t Speak English Only

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