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Such Sweet Thunder

Adapted from the work of Duke Ellington
Directed by Bruce Longworth*
Oct 3 — Oct 5, 2019
Public Media Commons

The collaboration between Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media, Jazz St. Louis, and The Big Muddy Dance Company brings to life Such Sweet Thunder, a 12-part jazz suite from Duke Ellington, in a multi-disciplinary performance to portray a tempestuous love story set in the 1950s. Bruce Longworth will adapt the script and direct the ensembles which include two actors Rayme Cornelle (Kate) and Ron Himes (Henry), 18 dancers in original choreography by Dexandro Montalvo and a 15-piece band playing Ellington’s timeless score.

In the summer of 1956, Duke Ellington was influenced by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival while on tour in Canada to delve more deeply into Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays. The following year, Ellington and his jazz orchestra recorded the album over a three week period and titled it after a line from Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “So musical a discord, such sweet thunder” (Act 4, Scene 1). The suite which has been described by NPR as “one of the most remarkable orchestral pieces in all of American music” includes titles like “Sonnet for Caesar”, “Lady Mac” and the “The Star-Crossed Lovers.”

Cast and Creative

Rayme Cornell* (Kate) and Ron Himes* (Henry)

Video and Scenic Design by Peter and Margery Spack
Costume Design by Claudia Brownlee
Sound Design by Rusty Wandall
Lighting Design by Jonah Schnell
Choreography by Dexandro Montalvo

*Denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association