Stew and the Negro Problem

Since Stew and musical partner Heidi Rodewald shelved TNP six years ago, they've become stage sensations, taking the musical Passing Strange from repertory to Broadway, earning seven Tony nominations (and one victory, for Best Book of a Musical) and watching Stew's autobiographical story become a Spike Lee–directed documentary. "All of a sudden since we've had some mainstream success, it's like the name is OK," Rodewald says, "even though, if you look around the country, things aren't any better politically." "Everybody assumes that once you start making money off something, it becomes your main focus," says Stew, who with Rodewald is currently juggling three theater commissions. "Making a Broadway show is not our main focus; we just got sidetracked for a couple of years." Both are eager for TNP's return to live shows, where Stew is equal parts songsmith, raconteur, and commentator. "I'm not going for some carrot or some brass ring," he says. "I just want to perform — I don't care if it's in dive bars or stadiums." KEVIN BRONSON

Fri., Nov. 5, 8 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m., 2010

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