The Total Bent
Closed 1h 50m
The Total Bent

The Total Bent NYC Reviews and Tickets

(103 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.

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Member Reviews (103)

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716 Reviews | 219 Followers
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).

563 Reviews | 194 Followers
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.

543 Reviews | 133 Followers
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.

435 Reviews | 126 Followers
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

406 Reviews | 188 Followers
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

445 Reviews | 67 Followers
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.

434 Reviews | 95 Followers
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.

426 Reviews | 99 Followers
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.

Critic Reviews (28)

The New York Times
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 power of its sensational score...At its best, 'The Total Bent' feels more like an ecstatic combination of revival meeting and rock concert."
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Time Out New York
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 and dull stretches. However, the music is funky, fierce and sticky-sweet and you might get burned from the heat coming off the performers."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
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 then why does the director Joanna Settle attempt to place it in a physical reality? Why bother with the ridiculous gay subplot? Why juggle ten balls when seven of them always fall? "
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The Hollywood Reporter
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-piece onstage band including Stew and Rodewald — provides ample compensation for the befuddling storyline."
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May 25th, 2016

"The newest great musical to launch at the Public Theater...A bit more ramshackle than 'Passing Strange,' 'The Total Bent' is no less thrilling...If you’re at all familiar with the Stew/Rodewald collaboration, you know it produces wildly pleasing music across pretty much every contemporary genre. 'The Total Bent' is no exception and, as always, this one is just packed with heart."
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New York Daily News
May 28th, 2016

"Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s new musical is sometimes thrilling. It’s also sometimes snoozy, without much to say — or at least to say clearly...At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, sexually adventuresome Marty (Ato Blankson-Wood, magnetic) must break away from his gospel-singing father (Vondie Curtis-Hall, supercool) to make his own mark. That’s pretty much it. But when there’s music, 'Total Bent' grooves with bluesy, funky urgency."
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May 25th, 2016

“A lofty jumble of a show that deals with God, the civil rights movement, the music industry, sexuality, and a haunted microphone, ‘The Total Bent’ only intermittently makes sense. But when the spitfire cast and outrageously phenomenal band burst into song, it's a religious experience of the highest caliber…A thrilling new score...Lyrically, the songs are sharp and often bitingly funny...At once messy and transportive, and thoroughly mesmerizing from start to finish.”
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May 29th, 2016

"The terrific Vondie Curtis Hall plays the seductively slithering gospel singing preacher and faith healer Papa Joe Roy...The story gets fuzzy in this one, which, after establishing its themes, evolves into more of a concert with a thin narrative. As directed by Joanna Settle, this keenly-performed premiere production displays the piece as an enjoyable work in progress with high potential."
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