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The Total Bent

From 103 member  reviews
Members say: Great singing, Confusing, Original, Entertaining, Ambitious

About the show

The Public Theater presents a new musical by Stew and Heidi Rodewald (creators of 'Passing Strange') set at the intersection of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll. More…

When a British record producer arrives in Montgomery, Alabama to sign Marty Roy, a young black musical prodigy, we're launched back into the songwriter's tumultuous past. The son of a gospel star and self-proclaimed healer, Marty spent his childhood writing the tunes that made his charismatic father famous. But in an America on the verge of social upheaval, with an unrelenting appetite for celebrity, Marty finds himself at odds with his spiritually forceful father as he strives to make a name for himself—no matter the cost.


Member Reviews (103)

MEMBERS SAY:

Great singing, Confusing, Original, Entertaining, Ambitious
74
Avg Score

90
Original, Intense, Entertaining, Ambitious, Great singing

See it if You like creative blues, gospel, rock, and R&B music with electrifying performers.

Don't see it if You don't like a fragmented story (but I enjoyed piecing together the changing relationship between father and son, God, race and music).

87
Original, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great singing

See it if You want to hear original music that combines many different music genres. You want issues about identity, race & family.

Don't see it if You want a more traditional Broadway or rock score. You don't want a story that deals with big issues.

89
Great staging, Thought-provoking, Intense, Original, Great singing

See it if U like Stew,know Passing Strange,know the 60's & 70's racial tensions,love funk,get how religious boundaries mess up artistic freedom Chill

Don't see it if U r religious,narrow minded,cannot feel a plot & need to have it explained to you Want melodic music and life Live in a square box

90
Funny, Original, Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are interested in a musical experience encompassing father/son conflicts, black culture and music, greed, being true to oneself and more

Don't see it if you crave linear thinking, quiet theater and a tightly woven script - it's all about the music and the mind sets of the father and son.

79
Entertaining, Great staging, Original, Intense, Great singing

See it if you are a fan of gospel style music done in an up-to-date and exciting rendition; you appreciate high energy, wonderful costuming, hi volume

Don't see it if you have tender ears - the volume builds to near deafening by the end; you hate gospel music; you are looking for a coherent story line

69
Ambitious, Overrated, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if you like phenomenally sung songs by phenomenal performers...And you like your theater with a stroooooong touch of religion.

Don't see it if you don't like barely comprehensible stories, patchwork framing, and were expecting more considering all the hype.

55
Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious, Original, Intense

See it if You are interested in a fictional rise of a great Black musician and the son who follows in his wake. A story with dense family dynamic.

Don't see it if You want a straight narrative, if you get a headache from too much busy work or if you want consistency in performance.

85
Original, Delightful, Absorbing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if love a poignant story with great voices and a gospel/blues mix of music by Stew and Heidi. He enjoyed watching his show while he performed

Don't see it if don't enjoy gospel music and a religious text

88
Edgy, Original, Absorbing, Confusing, Great singing

See it if you want to hear one of the best scores outstandingly performed in the theater today.

Don't see it if you want a conventional musical. Except for a confusing book, everything else is exceptional.

88
Original, Confusing, Epic, Electrifying, Great singing

See it if It's all about the music and performances, which are thrilling. Set in the 60's, it explores the formation of one musician's artistic self.

Don't see it if Plot is muddled; themes of race, religion, civil rights movement, birth of rock n' roll and being gay are touched on but not fully explored.

58
Confusing, Original, Quirky, Great singing

See it if You want to experience GREAT music and singing. However, know that the plot isn't entirely clear.

Don't see it if You don't like blues music.

92
Dynamic performers, Knockout music, Thrilling to be in the theater

See it if You like electrifying live performance, you love the music of Stew & Heidi Rodewald, you want an inside look at gospel, rock, rap world.

Don't see it if You want a big budget, glitzy Bway type show, a happy ending, a blond blue eyed heroine finding Mr Right in a big duet!

60
Confusing, Cliched, Overrated, Original, Great singing

See it if Stew and Heidi can do no wrong in your eyes.

Don't see it if you need a clear plot, who characters are, etc

71
Refreshing, Entertaining, Quirky, Resonant, Great singing

See it if Like 60's soul music, intimate staging, interest in civil rights and south

Don't see it if Want an intricate plot or any real plot

80
Entertaining, Great singing

See it if If you like Stew's music with very good singers.

Don't see it if You don't like loud moving music.

65
Confusing, Intense, Great singing

See it if you want to see some people singing their faces off in a show that is more like a rock concert.

Don't see it if you like a clear, linear plot, or prefer traditional musicals.

85
Absorbing, Dizzying, Entertaining, Original, Must see

See it if you like off-beat shows; like STEW; like gospel-ey, blues-ey, jazz=ey music; like shows with a religious theme; like to tap your toes.

Don't see it if don't like religious themed shows; don't like live band music in a show; like shows with linear clear stories (this is mostly music)

81
Great staging, Great writing, Original, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like how offensive Stew's stuff can be for some people.

Don't see it if you are the one that get offended by it

71
Funky, Fuzzy, Blazing, Ambitious, Lazy

See it if you're jazzed by a scorching score, performed w soul & staged w precision, & the evolution of Stew, whose vision & voice r epically alive.

Don't see it if something intriguingly bent but not totally successful is something broken to you. Closer to a concert, w a schematic plot, than a musical.

76
Ambitious, Confusing, Amazing performances, Wonderful lyrics, Great singing

See it if you enjoy Stew - his imprint is very present even though he has a minor on stage role. You enjoy incredible performances and fabulous music

Don't see it if A coherent book is important to you. The story seems secondary to the music here- which is satisfying but we all left confused

75
Confusing, Original, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You liked Passing Strange. If you consider music and performance more important than plot. You want to see some great performances

Don't see it if You like to understand the show (I have no idea what this was about. Lazarus was easier to follow).

70
Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if you enjoy shows that address issues with race and religion. A few great musical numbers and some stellar acting scenes. Still some work tho.

Don't see it if you don't want to see an in-progress musical about race and religion and family feuds.

74
Disappointing, Overrated, Great singing

See it if you love Stew

Don't see it if there are other shows on your list - this is well done but not absorbing

90
Clever, Funny, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if you want stimulating ideas thrown at you and want to be transported by exhilarating music

Don't see it if you want a tidy plot

60
Overrated, Quirky, Great singing

See it if you like gospel type rock music and great singing, and small, all male casts.

Don't see it if you want to see a linear production plot wise - it was all over the place and confusing. Needed a serious edit.


May 25th, 2016
"A blazingly entertaining new musical...'The Total Bent' can get a little fuzzy when it comes to the details of its story. Stew’s book is not always cogent, although it’s consistently funny...Even if you may scratch your head at a few points, 'The Total Bent' keeps you hooked through the surging ...
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May 25th, 2016
"'Total Bent' is a daring and overreaching sophomore musical…It’s a shaggy, idiosyncratic patchwork…Director Joanna Settle’s great achievement is crafting a physical production that looks like it sprang organically from a jam session…At close to two intermission-free hours it has its repetitive a...
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May 25th, 2016
"You could call 'The Total Bent' a mess of a musical — or you could look at it, as it evidently means to look at itself, as a different sort of entertainment. Certainly it is compelling as a performance piece; the songs are mostly terrific, and are sung with immense panache and authority. But the...
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May 25th, 2016
"As theater, the hopelessly muddled 'The Total Bent' makes a great concert...I was hard-pressed to figure out exactly what was going on in the narratively confused proceedings whose plot elements include a seemingly haunted microphone. Fortunately, the rousing score — played by a terrific seven-p...
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