(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Tony Award-winning musical writer Stew, of the Broadway hit jazz-rock musical Passing Strange, and his artistic partner Heidi Rodewald of Stew and The Negro Problem, will perform in the MCLA Church Street Center Auditorium as part of the College’s MCLA Presents! performance series on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. They will be joined by Broadway veteran Jon Spurney. All proceeds will benefit the Margaret A. Hart ’35 Scholarship.
Stew and Rodewald will perform hits from their Broadway musical Passing Strange, which combines jazz, rock and rap in a coming-of-age tale of a young, African-American man, as well as some of the seminal work of Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht.
Stew’s works include Passing Strange, for which he received the 2008 Tony award for Best Book of a Musical. He wrote the lyrics and co-composed music for the same. In addition, he is a two-time Obie winner for Best New Theater Piece and Best Ensemble.
Stew also composed “Gary Come Home” for the television show SpongeBob SquarePants. A four-time Tony nominee, Stew leads – along with Rodewald – two critically acclaimed bands: The Negro Problem and Stew.
Rodewald has spent more than a decade as a performer, arranger, producer and composer for both The Negro Problem and the multi-disciplinary ensemble known as Stew. Her credits include Passing Strange, Berkeley Repertory Theatre/the Public Theater/the Belasco Theater (2006/2007/2008); composer, Karen Kandel’s Portraits: Night and Day (2004); and co-writer with Stew of the screenplay We Can See Today. She also wrote and performed with the seminal female punk band Wednesday Week.
Spurney played keyboards on David Byrne’s album Looking Backward, and played guitar and sang on John Cale’s recent release Hobo Sapiens. He has performed with artists as diverse as Jewel, Natalie Merchant, Stew and Amy Rigby, and has made numerous television appearances including NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CBS This Morning. He performed in Sarah McClachlan’s Lilith Fair Festival in 1999, and most recently appeared at the HBO Comedy Fest in Aspen with TastiSkank.
Each year, a scholarship is awarded in Hart’s name to one or more ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) student leaders. A lifelong resident of Berkshire County, she attended both grade and high schools in Williamstown. Hart was one of the first students of color to graduate from State Teachers College at North Adams in 1935, now known as MCLA. She received a master’s degree at Columbia University and an honorary doctorate from MCLA in 1996. She taught for three decades in the Pittsfield public schools, where she was the first African American to hold such a post.
This concert is sponsored by the MCLA Multicultural Resource Center and clubs, as well as the Hart Scholarship Committee. MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.
Tickets to Stew and The Negro Problem are $10 for general admission. Tickets for MCLA alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and members and students are free. For tickets, call 413-662-5204. For information, call 413-664-8718, or go to MCLA Church Street Center Auditorium.