A Clever Kind of Non-Theater

Stew and the Negro Problem, an “Afro-Baroque” band, is all about blurring boundaries: between different races and cultures, between theater and concert, between art and life. Tonight’s performance also blurs different stages of the band’s career. Some songs come from their Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange (which Spike Lee also adapted into a film), about coming of age amidst myriad pressures shaping what it means to be a black male musician; others come from their latest album, Making It, which chronicles Stew’s artistic and sometime romantic relationship with Heidi Rodewald, with whom he collaborated on Passing Strange; still others haven’t been recorded yet. “There’s nothing more theatrical than a rock band,” says Stew, and he’s not just talking about his own recurring characters, themes, and stories. At a rock concert, “we can have those moments where suddenly something spiritual can take over and can alter the entire event.” As such, no two Stew and the Negro Problem shows are alike; even during their Broadway run, three-minute songs could go on for ten, which took the theater techies some getting used to. Rock concerts, for him, are “a clever kind of theater: where you pretend it’s not theater.”
Sat., Oct. 13, 8 p.m., 2012

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