By Adam Hetrick
16 Mar 2012
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis presented the reading of the musical as part of the "Ignite! New Play Festival" series in Missouri. The musical is based on the graphic novel series by Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix, which is inspired by the true-life St. Louis criminal Lee Shelton.
Stagger Lee has music by Stew and Rodewald, lyrics by Stew and a book by McCulloch. Amanda Dehnert directed the 3 PM reading.
In addition to Page (Cats, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues), Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange) and Muñoz (In the Heights), the reading featured J. Samuel Davis, Stacey Sargeant and Paul Oakley Stovall.
Here's how Stagger Lee is billed: "On Christmas Eve 1895, shots rang out in a St. Louis bar. A hundred years and a thousand songs later, this ordinary murder has become a legend. This is the true story of what happened after Stagger Lee shot Billy Lyons."
The story of Stagger Lee also served as the subject for numerous American folksong incarnations.
Stew and Rodewald's Passing Strange was Tony-nominated for Best Musical and Best Score. Stew earned the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. Spike Lee filmed the Broadway production late in its run at the Belasco Theatre. The duo also presented their song cycle Making It at St. Ann's Warehouse in 2010. Stew and Rodewald are part of the band The Negro Problem. Their latest work, The Total Bent, premiered at the Public Theater Feb. 24.