Director Joanna Settle says she first met Stew at NYC’s Public Theater in 2007, when she went to tell him to turn down the volume of the music for Passing Strange. She was in another theater in the building, working on what she called a “little genocide play” — aka the developmental production of Winter Miller’s In Darfur — and his rock music was just a little too loud to suit her at that moment.
After they got that out of the way, though, it seems that a great working relationship was born.
Judging from the way Joanna has continued to work with Stew, commissioning him to compose an original score for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her first production as artistic director of Connecticut’s Shakespeare on the Sound, it truly is a great relationship.
The score for the Shakespeare production, which closed on Sunday, was vintage Stew, full of the lush pop sounds that characterize his appealing work. (You’ll be able to judge for yourself soon, as the Shakespeare company is releasing a CD of Stew performing the songs.) It was perfectly paired with the Bard’s words, and organically integrated into the structure of the show. That was a treat, as I’ve seen too many outdoor Shakespeare productions into which some pop songs awkwardly shoehorned.
And the production, played out on a serpentine boardwalk of a stage, was imaginatively conceived and directed. It gives me high hopes for Stew and Heidi’s collaboration with Joanna.
As I’ve reported before on this blog, Joanna will continue to work with Stew. She’s signed on to direct the next play that Stew and his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald are working on. There’s no date or title announced, but it’s slated to be presented at The Public Theater.
It’s a good bet that we’ll get more clues about the nature of the new piece when Stew, Heidi and The Broadway Problem take the stage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Aug. 19. Click here for more information. The show will be at the bandshell in Damrosch Park at West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue at the southwest corner of the Lincoln Center campus. The performance starts at 7 p.m. Free.