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Mark Stewart (born August 16, 1961), known by his stage name Stew, is an American singer-songwriter and playwright from Los Angeles, California, United States. In the early 1990s, he formed a band called The Negro Problem and later went on to release albums under his own name. His 2000 release Guest Host was named Album of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and his 2002 album, The Naked Dutch Painter and Other Songs, repeated that feat. He toured in support of Love's Arthur Lee in 2002 and in 2003 he was invited to take part in the Lincoln Center's American Songbook series of concerts.
Starting in 2004, he began writing the book, lyrics and music (with Heidi Rodewald) for his semi-autobiographical rock musical Passing Strange, produced with the support of the Sundance Institute and The Public Theater, which won him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics. Also in 2004, he wrote and performed "Gary's Song" for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail? (Where's Gary?)", which aired the following year. In 2006, he and Rodewald continued to produce Passing Strange as well as working on a film project with The Sundance Institute. Passing Strange had successful runs at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California, in the fall of 2006, and off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York City during the spring of 2007. It received critical praise from both the New York Times and Variety and opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre in February 2008 under the aegis of producer Liz McCann and the Shubert Organization. The play garnered seven Tony nominations in 2008, with Stew receiving four nominations and winning the award for Best Book. The play closed in July 2008, with Spike Lee filming the final performances for a feature film which screened at the Sundance Festival in January 2009.
Stew and Heidi debuted a new show, "Making It," at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn in February 2010.
In December 2011, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis announced that its 2012 new theatre series, Ignite!, would feature a reading of a stage musical adaptation of the graphic novel, Stagger Lee, with a book by the graphic novel's author, Derek McCulloch, and music and lyrics by Stew and Heidi Rodewald.
With The Negro Problem
- Post Minstrel Syndrome (1997)
- Joys & Concerns (1999)
- Welcome Black (2002)
- Blackboot (2003)
- Making It (2012)
- Guest Host (2000)
- Sweetboot (2001)
- The Naked Dutch Painter . . . and Other Songs (2002)
- Something Deeper Than These Changes (2003)
- "Gary's Song"(2005)
With The Lullabies
- Lullabies' Lullaby (2003)
- At Apogee (2004) by Mr. Smolin
- Poison of the Sea (2005) by Patria Jacobs
- The Crumbling Empire of White People (2007) by Mr. Smolin
- "The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: Kids ArtStart". Repstl.org. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- Official website
- Broadway Production of Passing Strange official website
- allmusic entry for The Negro Problem
- allmusic entry for Stew
- Passing Strange official website
- Los Angeles Times article on Passing Strange
- Stew sings "Black Men Ski" at TED2006
- Stew Sez (Stew's blog)
- Trouser Press Entry for The Negro Problem
- Tony nominations for 'Passing Strange,' Stew on SFGate
- Passing Strange wins Tony Award for best book on A+E Interactive
- Passing Strange on the Sundance Film Festival website