The Public Theater Opens THE TOTAL BENT
The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Patrick Willingham) will present the world premiere of THE TOTAL BENT, with book and lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, beginning on Tuesday, February 14. Directed by Joanna Settle, THE TOTAL BENT runs through Sunday, March 4 in The Public’s Anspacher Theater. Single tickets for THE TOTAL BENT go on sale Friday, December 16; and can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555, by visiting www.publictheater.org, or in person at The Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets are $15 to all Public Lab productions.
Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning Passing Strange, team up with director Joanna Settle and return to The Public with a new musical about a black gospel prodigy from down South and a white music producer from South London who meet in a recording studio just south of the Twilight Zone, as they both desperately seek their own versions of transcendence, salvation, and a hit record. Divine inspiration, fantastical visions, and one legendary music-producer father frame this electrifying new musical about the complicated space between the sacred and the profane.
THE TOTAL BENT features scenic design by Andrew Lieberman; costume design by Gabriel Berry; lighting design by Adam Silverman; and sound design by Obadiah Eaves.
Now in its 5th season, Public Lab provides new opportunities for both our audiences and artists. Our audience gains access to more of the theater they love from The Public – both Shakespeare and new work – at the affordable price of only $15. Our artists, both emerging and established, gain a new platform to further develop their work on stage and in performance.
STEW (Book, Lyrics, Music). His work for The Public includes Passing Strange, for which he received the 2008 Tony award for Best Book of a Musical, and four other Tony nominations including Best Musical. He is also a two-time Obie award winner for Passing Strange (Best New Theater Piece/Best Ensemble). Spike Lee shot a feature film of the Broadway production of Passing Strange and it rocked selected theaters before debuting on PBS’ Great Performances in 2009. It’s also 100% on Rotten Tomatoes so rent it now! Stew leads a band called The Negro Problem (TNP) whose albums have survived much critical acclaim. TNP created “Making It,” a song-cycle for rock band and video, which was commissioned by and performed at St. Ann's Warehouse in February, 2010. In October of that same year “Brooklyn Omnibus,” another live song-cycle with video, was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy Of Music and performed there. Stew is a member of The Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board. Stew was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin in Madison during Fall 2011 where he taught a class entitled “Song Factory” and was curator of a weekly public series at the Mitchell Theater which featured leading New York performance and music artists. January 2012 will see the release of the music from “Making It” by The Negro Problem on their new label “Tight Natural Productions.” Stew and Heidi wrote "Gary Come Home" for the "Sponge Bob SquarePants" cartoon because that’s all anyone cares about anyway. Website: stewsongs.com.
Heidi Rodewald (Music) was co-composer of the musical Passing Strange, which transferred from The Public Theater to Broadway in 2008 where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations. Passing Strange won a Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical, the 2008 Obie Award for Best New American Theater Piece and Best Ensemble and was made into a film by Spike Lee. Rodewald composed music for Karen Kandel's Portraits: Night and Day (2004); Brides of the Moon by The Five Lesbian Brothers (2010); and co-composed with Stew music for Shakespeare’s Othello and Much Ado About Nothing (2010-11). Rodewald joined The Negro Problem in 1997 and since then has worked alongside Stew, performing, producing, arranging, and composing. She is currently working on a new musical, Against You, a free adaptation of Antigone set in the 1960's with librettist, Donna Di Novelli.
Joanna Settle (Director) directed Winter Miller’s In Darfur for The Public in 2007. She has also directed Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire at Manhattan Ensemble Theater, and restaged the production for the Geffen Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre and D.C.’s Arena Stage. Settle served as artistic director of Division 13 Productions from 1997 – 2005 and directed and/or adapted 15 of D13’s 17 projects, including BLOOD LINE: The Oedipus/Antigone Story, two plays by Sophocles, Macbett by Ionesco, several Beckett shorts including Cascando and Play. Her other credits include Slither by Carson Kreitzer, the South American tour of Grease and the short film Night, Night by Will Eno. Settle has directed and/or taught at The Juilliard School, Bard College, Cornell and Williams College.
The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals, and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater’s mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day onstage and through extensive outreach programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe’s Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater’s productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 158 Obies, 42 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater Productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls…; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring In ‘da Noise, Bring In ‘da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice. www.publictheater.org.