The Pass

Biographical, Musical, Documentary, 1 hr 43 min

The Pass: A Story About Songwriting & the Human Spirit


a raw biographical performance comprised of life-defining moments, humour, heartbreak, and self-discovery accompanied by beautiful music…

In all honesty I started watching The Pass not knowing at all what to expect as I had no prior knowledge of Denise Marsa and had not heard her music, but by the end of The Pass I was wanting an encore! Viewers should watch The Pass with an open mind and understand that this delivery method of live narrative and music is rather unique and may be something you’re not used to. Lesflicks has always welcomed new and different ways of telling original stories and I love the variety of content you can find on the Lesflicks Video-On-Demand platform. The Pass is testament to that. It came as a pleasant surprise to me to see Denise pour out her heart, soul, and life story in a mixture of spoken word and songs. Although I primarily review films, I am a fan of many art forms including music and theatre and I do believe that in the absence of being able to see live performances during the pandemic, The Pass was a delightful alternative. Whether you’re already an age-old fan of Denise Marsa or not, this 1hr and 43min of footage is a raw biographical performance comprised of life-defining moments, humour, heartbreak, and self-discovery accompanied by beautiful music that you could well enjoy if those are elements that appeal to you.

4-years in the making, and described as a “Biographical Musical Documentary”, The Pass is clearly a carefully constructed performance piece, almost like a one-woman show. It was written and performed by Denise Marsa herself and accompanied on the piano and with vocals by Tracy Stark. “Am I feeling vulnerable?” Denise reveals: “you bet I am.” The true authenticity of a story always comes across best when it is being written and performed or directed by the author, and such is the case with The Pass. With her accounts of remarkable moments in her life, of which there are many, Denise takes the audience on a topsy-turvy journey of her own making from her hometown in Trenton, New Jersey all the way around the world as she toured with her music and experienced the ups and downs in life and the music industry. She went through different publishers, contracts, relationships, guardian angels, sexual predators, and even an acting coach that tried to choke her to prove a point. Like many creatives who draw on personal life experiences to tell a story or write a song, you can see that it took a lot of bravery and self-acceptance to be able to draw upon those moments and pull off this performance.

There is much to take away from The Pass as essentially by delving into Denise’s life we as an audience are privy to learning the life lessons she is sharing with us. There are many inspirational messages including her reminder “to do what you love no matter what” and her light-hearted yet pivotal tale of achieving the all-important “Pass”. The meaning of songs become that much clearer and more poignant as she makes certain revelations before each song. For example, Denise declares that “things were fantastic; but she was still in the closet” as an introduction to the song “Equal” where lyrics included “we must stand tall, we must not go away, they must embrace us, we are equal” – which by the way, would be a perfect anthem for #LesbianVisibilityWeek when The Pass will be released on Lesflicks! The song “In a Matter of Moments” hit home that much more after being told that it’s effectively an emotional tribute to loved ones who have tragically passed away. My favourite song was the upbeat yet very on-point “You” which gave us the honest realisation that “not everyone can stay the duration, not everyone can love without expectation, and we all have our limitations”.

In the end, whilst The Pass put Denise Marsa and her life in the spotlight using words and music, what I found really shone through were her genuine accounts of self-reflection and the messages she has for the world, which were resoundingly positive and motivating. She sings that “your voice is the loudest, your voice is the strongest, trust in yourself”. One thing’s for sure, Denise has a voice too and a story to tell, which The Pass delivers nicely. I’d be happy to see it converted into a live musical though, just saying!

The Pass will be available to watch from its LesflicksVOD Premiere Release date on May 2nd 2021. The premiere will feature as part of the Lesflicks 24hr Extravaganza to celebrate #LesbianVisibilityWeek. Plus you can catch the live conversation with the legend, Denise Marsa herself, as well as submit audience questions live on Lesflicks YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LesflicksVOD and Twitch channels on May 2nd 2021! Mark this in your calendars and sign up for the premiere here:



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Writer, Reviewer, Social

Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.