Shakespeare Festival St Louis - In the News

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Jazz St. Louis and the Nine Network of Public Media present an adaptation of Duke Ellington’s:

Such Sweet Thunder 

October 3, 4 & 5  at 8:00 PM

Live in the Public Media Commons

Free | Reservations Recommended

(click to sign up)


Performance Dates:
– Thursday, October 3
– Friday, October 4
– Saturday, October 5

Tickets: The performances are free but reservations are recommended. Reserve your spot here:

Seating: The event is outdoors. We recommend bringing your own lawn chairs or blankets.  A limited number of chairs for audience use will be available at a first come first serve basis.

Parking: Limited, free parking is available in the lot across the street from the Nine Network, entrance is on Spring Ave. Additional metered street parking, including spaces in front of the building for handicap accessibility, and parking garages are available in the Grand Center neighborhood. Please note that Olive Street will be closed to through traffic from Grand to Spring.

Concessions: Beverages are available for sale. No drinks from the outside are permitted; however, you can bring your own snacks.

Directions: The Public Media Commons is located in Grand Center next to the Nine Network of Public Media. 3653 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63108 (DIRECTIONS)

Questions? Contact Allie Magee at 314-531-9800 ext. 113 or


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.”


Rayme Cornell (Kate)

Ron Himes (Henry) 


Bruce Longworth (Director)* is a Resident Artist at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and previously directed The Winter’s Tale (2017), Henry V (2014), Othello (2012), and Hamlet (2010) for Shakespeare in the Park. He has been a faculty member in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University since 1985 and is the Head of the Performance programs. Local and regional directing credits include Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Repertory Theatre St. Louis, Pulitzer Museum, Saint Louis Symphony, Lyceum Theatre, Mustard Seed Theatre, New Jewish Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Missouri Thespians, International Thespians and many shows for the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster. Bruce is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Actors Equity Association.

Dexandro Montalvo (Choreographer) ​is a San Francisco based director, choreographer, dancer, and teacher. Born in New York, Montalvo earned a BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase College and performed with a wide range of dance companies, including Robert Moses’ Kin. Montalvo has performed with and created works for many dance companies and schools, as well as for television and music videos. He has taught at San Francisco Ballet, Stanford University, SUNY Purchase, University of San Francisco, Dominican University of California (LINES BFA Program), LINES Ballet Training Program, and ODC Dance Commons. Montalvo has choreographed for Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company, Liss Fain Dance Company, The Black Eyed Peas, and DanceWorks Chicago, among many others. From 2015 to 2018, he served as artistic director of Dance Theatre of San Francisco. Under his leadership, the company won two Isadora Duncan Awards, including “Outstanding Choreography” for Montalvo’s ballet Pent. Montalvo also received a 2014 Isadora Duncan Award for his choreography for “Art Behind Bars” at Alcatraz. ​

Peter and Margery Spack (Scenic Design) recently designed scenery for Shakespeare in the Streets: Blow Winds, Romeo & Juliet in the Park, Heisenberg and Safe House andThe Play that Goes Wrong at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Intimate Apparel, Never the Sinner, Life Sucks and New Jerusalem at The New Jewish Theatre. As Studio Spack Environment Design, Margery and Peter also design corporate theater, product reveals, broadcast news, trade show environments, and private events. They both have BFAs from Webster University and reside in their hometown of St. Louis.

Claudia Brownlee (Costume Design)

Jonah Schnell (Lighting Design)

*Denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association.

Such Sweet Thunder is underwritten with generous support from:

John and Alison Ferring

Terry & Sally Schnuck