L.A. Rebel in Berlin

The Negro Problem's Stew brings his indie musical to the Public Theater

As a couple, Stew and Rodewald speak freely about their arguments, which they say have grown more frequent since Passing Strange came along. "I'm the one closest to him, and so he's really tough on me," says Rodewald. "I get a lot of his shit. When people tell him how charming he is, I'm off to the side thinking what an asshole he can be."

Stew takes the criticism in stride: "I've been more explosive during rehearsals and Heidi bears the brunt of that. I wish we could be more like Brecht and Weill. They always addressed each other formally."

The couple say they're eager to get back to their real gig—playing nightclubs. "If Passing Strange works, that's great," says Stew. "But if it doesn't, we have a place to go. We don't think theater is some sort of pinnacle. We've been invited to this big party, and the truth is that we're really here to take the sandwiches."

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