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A Strange Loop: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


Rather than use the stage at Feinstein's/54 Below, the cast of A Strange Loop cram into a booth for their Tiny Desk (home) concert. The protagonist of the musical is an usher, so performing in the crowd makes sense. 54 Below played a pivotal role in the musical's rise when, in 2016, composer Michael R. Jackson performed a concert version for New Musicals at 54. Little did anyone know that the show would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2020. The cast reunited at "Broadway's Supper Club" to sing a five-song medley led by the show's author to celebrate their opening at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway.

Jackson explains A Strange Loop is "a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show who is writing a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show... who is caught in a self-referential loop of his own self hatred." The ensemble of characters joining him are a collection of "fierce but completely obnoxious" "Thoughts" — literally billed in the show's Playbill as "Thoughts 1-6."

The show at the Lyceum clocks in at 100 minutes with no intermission. Even in this small, Tiny Desk (home) version it's easy to get caught up in Usher's whirlwind of emotions as he's tormented by his thoughts. One can only imagine sitting in a dark theater with a bunch of strangers, laughing and crying, spiraling out together on Usher's strange loop.

SET LIST

  • "Intermission Song"
  • "We Wanna Know"
  • "Inner White Girl"
  • "Periodically"
  • "Memory Song"
  • MUSICIANS

    MUSIC AND LYRICS

  • Michael R. Jackson
  • CAST

  • Antwayn Hopper
  • James Jackson, Jr.
  • L Morgan Lee
  • John-Michael Lyles
  • John-Andrew Morrison
  • Jaquel Spivey
  • Jason Veasey
  • BAND

  • Rona Siddiqui: music direction, keys
  • Beth Callen: guitar
  • Ian Jesse: bass
  • Marques Walls: drums
  • CREDITS

  • Video by Magicshak Media
  • Camera Operators: Nick Shakra, Anton Ponomarev, Maksim Kataev
  • Audio: Amanda Raymond
  • Audio Mix: Josh Rogosin
  • Directed by Stephen Brackett
  • Produced by Lilly Claar
  • Hair & Makeup by Kirk Cambridge Del-Pesche, Dotty Petersen, Elias Prince
  • Special Thanks: Raja Feather Kelly, Cherie B. Tay, Barbara Whitman, Jimmy Wilson, Arnulfo Maldonado, Corey Umlauf, 321 Theatrical Management, Feinstein's/54 Below
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Josh Rogosin
  • Video Producer: Michael Zamora
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.