Tag Archives: Shakespeare on the Sound

More video of Stew, Heidi and The Negro Problem at Joe’s Pub

It’s time for a better taste of The Negro Problem‘s fantastic show at Joe’s Pub on Jan 7 .

Here’s all the video Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? managed to shoot in the crowded room.

The first clip is just an excerpt, the last minute or so of one of my favorite Stew/TNP songs, “Peter Jennings,” performed with as much joy and excitement as I’ve ever seen.

After that is “Willow Song,” a Stew and Heidi number that many in the audience hadn’t heard before. It was written for last summer’s production of Othello for Shakespeare on the Sound, an outdoor community Shakespeare program in Connecticut. (Stew and Heidi tackle Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for SotS Artistic Director Joanna Settle this summer.) It’s a beautiful, dreamy number that worked well in the play, but also stands alone surprisingly well.

Finally, for all you Passing Strange fans, there’s “Amsterdam.”


Chekhov under an open sky

Ivanov (Rob Campbell) dances on the water of Lake Lucille in the magical conclusion to Chekhov's Ivanov. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Lake Lucille echoed with the sounds of stagecraft for five days last week as a company of 60 actors, musicians and various other theater professionals put together a free, outdoor production of Ivanov, by Anton Chekhov, performed from a new translation by Curt Columbus.

This production of Chekhov on Lake Lucille was particularly welcomed because it marked the return of a neighborhood tradition. The annual run was broken last summer when host-producers Melissa Kievman and Brian Mertes moved to the West Coast for personal and professional reasons. But they kept their wonderful brownstone house — which is the centerpiece of the set for each Chekhov production — and managed to return this summer with a bigger-than-ever performance and neighborhood cookout and potluck supper at intermission.

Melissa Kievman, Brian Mertes and the band.

You could call it summer camp for theater professionals. Most of the volunteer staff spent the week living in tents, eating meals alfresco in the neighborhood and working to create a context for Chekhov’s drama in the suburban landscape of the Lake Lucille neighborhood.

It drew hundreds of guests to enjoy the creative staging under clear skies with moderate summer temperatures.

Dozens of neighbors and local businesses provided support for an undertaking that costs thousands of dollars. This year, the West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s Land Trust, helped produce the play with a grant obtained by the office of Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski and the late state Sen. Thomas P. Morahan. The Tisch East Alumni Council help with a microgrant for costuming.

The production uses the natural features. Here Ivanov makes an entrance from the lake itself.

Ivanov emerges, dripping wet.

Ivanov walks through the audience toward the stage.

As is often the case in Chekhov, the characters complain of boredom.

But Jesse J. Perez, who played Kosikh, choreographed some great routines to keep things interesting:

Check out more photos after the jump.

Continue reading

Celebrate the 4th of July with Stew and Dan Zanes

Dan Zanes.

Stew, of The Negro Problem and Passing Strange, has a lot on his plate these days, what with a new Shakespeare score being performed in Connecticut right now, a couple of musicals in the pipeline and some concert appearances. All of that is in the news section on the left side of Stew’s homepage.

Heidi Rodewald and Stew. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

For all the Stew completists who read Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?, tomorrow is the most important upcoming date. Stew is one of the “special guests” at the FREE Dan Zanes Jam & Jubilee, The Battery 4th of July Concert and Family Festival, presented by River To River in Battery Park.

Gates open at 1 p.m., with festivities kicking off an hour later. You can spend the day in Battery Park, dancing to the rhythms of La Cumbiamba eNeYe and singing along to Dan’s brand of Broadway classics! In addition to Stew, guests include spoken word poet Caridad De La Luz (La Bruja) and Joan Osborn.

You can even participate in the fun, as musicians of all ages are invited to perform 76 Trombones in a spectacular 4th of July Parade! You can download the sheet music and get detailed information on the festival website.

It should be a blast!

Victor Williams is Othello in the Shakespeare on the Sound production, with songs and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been to Connecticut to see Othello, directed by Joanna Settle with songs and music by Stew and his longtime partner Heidi Rodewald, there’s still time.

Shakespeare on the Sound‘s Othello is performed outdoors at 7:30 nightly (except Monday) through July 11 at Baldwin Park, 100 Arch St., in Greenwich, Conn. While Stew and Heidi don’t perform live, you’ll get the full impact of their work on the recorded backing tracks and live singing by the actors. Last year Stew scored A Midsummer Night’s Dream for SotS, and is was fantastic.

Seating is on the ground around the stage, so be sure to bring blankets or low chairs (nothing that would block the view of people seated behind you) for comfort. Or if you want to go first class, you can fork over a $50 donation for a reserved seat in on of SotS’s chairs.

And why not arrive early and turn it into dinner theater! It’s a great spot for a picnic before the show. There is a concession stand selling decent food and beverages, including wine and beer.

Admission is by donation. You could walk through the gate without paying a dime, but that just wouldn’t be right. Show your support for Stew and Heidi by dropping a donation at the gate. $20 per person is suggested, but more or less is just fine.

nically free, but donations are expected at the gae.

The park is right on the Long Island Sound and within walking distance of the Metro-North station. It’s a beautiful setting, easily accessible from NYC. Click here for transit info.

Stew and Heidi are in good hands

Director Joanna Settle at the post-show talkback at the final Shakespeare on the Sound show. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

Director Joanna Settle at the post-show talkback at the final performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Shakespeare on the Sound. Jesse Perez (Puck) looks on. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

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.

Heidi Rodewald

Heidi Rodewald



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.

Joanna Settle continues her conversation with the audience.

Joanna Settle continues her conversation with the audience.

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.