Stew & Heidi Rodewald to Appear on Stage at The Public in Their New Musical THE TOTAL BENT
The Public Theater announced today that Stew and Heidi Rodewald will perform live with the on-stage band for THE TOTAL BENT, playing the guitar and bass, respectively. With text by Stew and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the team behind the Tony Award-wining musical Passing Strange, which premiered at The Public in 2003, this world premiere musical is directed by Joanna Settle. Performances begin Tuesday, May 10 and continue through Sunday, June 12, with an official press opening on Wednesday, May 25.
The complete cast of THE TOTAL BENT features Marty Beller (Drums, Musical Direction); Ato Blankson-Wood (Marty Roy); John Blevins (Trumpet); Kenny Brawner (Deacon Charlie); David Cale (Byron Blackwell); Vondie Curtis-Hall (Joe Roy); Damian Lemar Hudson (Deacon Dennis); Jahi Kearse (Andrew); Brad Mulholland (Saxophone); Heidi Rodewald (Bass); Stew (Guitar); and Curtis Wiley (Abee).
Public Theater Member tickets, and single tickets starting at $65, are available now and can be accessed by calling (212) 967-7555, www.publictheater.org, or in person at the Taub Box Office at The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street. The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drinks, beginning at 5:00 p.m., and Joe's Pub at The Public continues to offer some of the best music in the city.
Continuing The Public's mission to make great theater accessible to all, The Public's First Performance "Free for All" returns; in partnership with TodayTix, New York's premiere theater ticket app, free tickets to the first preview on Tuesday, May 10 will be available beginning May 3, via TodayTix mobile lottery.
Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning show Passing Strange, team with director Joanna Settle to bring you their thrilling new musical, THE TOTAL BENT, a riotous new show at the crossroads of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock 'n' roll. When a British record producer arrives in Montgomery, Alabama to hook Marty Roy, a young black musical prodigy, he launches us back into Marty's tumultuous upbringing. The son of a gospel star and self-proclaimed healer, Marty spent his childhood writing the songs that have made his charismatic father famous. But in a nation on the verge of social upheaval, with the rising heat from the street guiding his pen, Marty finds himself at odds with his spiritually forceful father as he strives to create a masterpiece that will change America- no matter the cost. A funny, fiery, one-of-a-kind show, THE TOTAL BENT is about the passions that divide a father and son as they make their music and make their choice between salvation and selling out.
THE TOTAL BENT features scenic design by Andrew Lieberman, costume design by Gabriel Berry, lighting design by Thom Weaver, sound design by Obadiah Eaves and Sten Severson, and choreography by David Neumann.
STEW (Book and Music)'s credits include the book, lyrics, and co-composer of Passing Strange (2008 Tony: Best Book, 2-time 2007 Obie: Best New Theater Piece and Best Ensemble). In 2015, Notes of a Native Song in the spring at Harlem Stage and in the fall at Curran Theater; Wagner/Max/Wagner in the fall at the Kennedy Center; in 2014 Family Album at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; in 2013 Chicago Omnibus, at the Museum of Contemporary Art; in 2012 California Analog at UCLA's Royce Hall; in 2011 Aong Factory at the University of Wisconsin in Madison; in 2010 Making It in the spring at St. Anne's Warehouse; Brooklyn Omnibus in the fall at Brooklyn Academy of Music; and in 2009 Spike Lee's Passing Strange. Albums by The Negro Problem include Post Minstrel Syndrome; Joys & Concerns and Guest Host; The Naked Dutch Painter, both called Album of the Year by Entertainment Weekly; Welcome Back; Something Deeper than These Changes; Making It; and the Passing Strange cast album. For television, Stew is co-composer with Heidi Rodewald of "Gary Come Home," for SpongeBob SquarePants. Stew is a Sundance Institute Alum.
HEIDI RODEWALD (Music) is the Tony Award nominated, Obie Award-winning co-composer of the musical Passing Strange, which transferred from The Public Theater to Broadway in 2008. 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 music for Shakespeare's Othello and Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet (2010-12). Rodewald joined the band The Negro Problem in 1997, where she began a longtime collaboration with singer/songwriter, Stew. She has collaborated with him in a range of capacities - as a co-composer, producer/arranger and performer. She is the co-composer with Stew of the musical Family Album which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during the 2014 season; Notes of a Native Song, commissioned by Harlem Stage in 2015; and Wagner, Max! Wagner!! which opened at the Kennedy Center in 2015. Rodewald is the composer of The Good Swimmer, with librettist Donna DiNovelli, presented by Prototype Festival January 2016 at the space HERE in NYC, and scored her first film I Dream Too Much, which had its world premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.
JOANNA SETTLE (Director) previously directed the Public Lab production of The Total Bent, as well as Miller's In Darfur, the finale of Suzan-Lori Parks 365 Days/365 Plays, and Stephen Brown's Future Me at The Public. She also recently directed the world premiere of HandsUp by new Black Fest (Flashpoint Theater); Rapture Blister Burn by Gina Gionfreddo; An Octoroon by Brandon Jacob Jenkins (Wilma Theater); and Jamie Leonhart's ESTUARY (Joe's Pub/Kimmel Center). Her other credits include Family Album by Stew and Heidi Rodewald (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Harry Clarke by David Cale (Warhol Museum); Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare on the Sound). She directed the premiere of Heather Raffo's Nine Parts of Desire for Manhattan Ensemble Theater and restaged the production for The Geffen Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, MassMOCA, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Arena Stage; directed and/or adapted 15 of Chicago's Division 13 Productions 17 projects, including BLOOD LINE: The Oedipus/Antigone Story, two plays by Sophocles, Macbeth by Ionesco, and several Samuel Beckett shorts including Cascando and Play. Her other credits include Artistic Director, Shakespeare on the Sound (2009-2012); Artistic Director, Division 13 (1998-2004). Director of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. She holds a BA, Hampshire College; Graduate of the inaugural Julliard School Graduate Directing Program.
MARTY BELLER (Drums, Music Direction) is a drummer for They Might Be Giants since 2004. He is the 2009 Grammy Award winner for his work on "Here Come the 123s" by TMBG. His additional drum credits include Steve Earle, Jonathan Coulton, Mike Doughty, and Ivy. His composing credits include "Gracepoint" (Fox), "In Treatment" (HBO), "The Last Patrol" (HBO), "The Cruise" (Artisan), "Korengal," "Emptying the Skies" (Music Box), Another Gay Movie (TLA), :Biography of Groucho Marks" (A&E), "iRead" (Scholastic). He is the 2013 Bessie award nominee for "A Single Ride" (Ephrat Asherie Dance). Beller has been performing and recording with Stew and Heidi since 2000.
ATO BLANKSON-WOOD (Marty Roy) was seen at The Public in HAIR, as well as in the Broadway and West End productions. He was most recently seen in The Foundry Theater's production of O, Earth. His additional credits include Iphigenia in Aulis at Classic Stage Company; and Lysistrata Jones Off and on Broadway. His film credits include It's Kind of a Funny Story, and he is a member of the Actor's Center.
JOHN BLEVINS (Trumpet), is a trumpeter, guitarist, and composer who has performed and/or recorded with Theatre for a New Audience's Pericles; Prospect Theater Company's The Underclassman and Iron Curtain; Festival of New Trumpet Music; Wing Walker Orchestra; Noah & the MegaFauna; Morningsiders; iconiQ: The Soundtrack Orchestra; Trumpet City; Leave a Lasting Mark; and Actionplay among others. A graduate of Indiana University and New York University, John's latest original project, MATTERHORN, was released on pfMENTUM records in 2015.
KENNY BRAWNER (Deacon Charlie) is the keyboardist, composer, and lead singer for the Brawner brothers Band. His theater credits include The Total Bent at The Public; The City Club at Minetta Lane Theater; Clementine In The Lower Nine at TheatreWorks; What Makes A Man/Charles Aznavour at Canadian Stage; and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. He has also appeared in the movie Hair and has done vocal and instrumental accompaniment for Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's Blues Suite and Revelations, and his own production of Ray Chares on My Mind, a theater/concert piece.
DAVID CALE (Byron Blackwell) is the writer and performer of solo works including A Likely Story (The New Group); Lillian (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award); Deep in a Dream of You (The Public Theater, Bessie Award). He wrote the book, lyrics, co-composed the music for and performed in Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky (Playwrights Horizons, OCC nomination). He composed the songs for 600 HIGHWAYMEN's Employee of the Year (2016 UTR, Public Theater). His film and television credits include The Slaughter Rule and "The Good Wife."
VONDIE CURTIS-HALL (Joe Roy) is an actor, director, and screenwriter who has worked in film and television on both sides of the camera. His Broadway credits include It's So Nice To Be Civilized; Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; and Dreamgirls. As an actor, his film credits include Coming to America; Mystery Train; Die Hard 2; Passion Fish, Falling Down; Crooklyn; Clear and Present Danger; Broken Arrow; William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet; Don King: Only in America; telefilm Ali: An American Hero; Eve's Bayou; Honeydripper; Talk To Me; Black Nativity; Streetwise; Bad Lieutenant; Cymbeline (Venice Film Festival); The Experimenter; and Breaking Brooklyn. As a director, his film credits include Abducted: The Carlina White Story; Waist Deep; Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story; and Gridlock'd. For television, he has helmed episodes of "Firefly," "Gossip Girl," "The Starter Wife," "The Shield," "Sleeper Cell," "Boston Legal," and "ER." As an actor, the latter show earned him an Emmy Award nomination, for his portrayal of a troubled transgender who commits suicide. He has also guest-starred on "Soul Food" and "I'll Fly Away"; and was a series regular on "Chicago Hope," the new Marvel series "Daredevil," and ABC's "Spark."
DAMIAN LEMAR HUDSON (Deacon Dennis) has previously been seen as "Paris" in the Shakespeare on the Sounds production of Romeo & Juliet. He received a musical theatre degree from the University of Arizona.
JAHI KEARSE (Andrew) has appeared at The Public in The Fortress of Solitude and on Broadway in Holler If Ya Hear Me! and Baby It's You! His other select credits include Indian Joe; Maurice Hines' Yo Alice; Hadestown; Ladykillers; Debbie Allen's Souls Possessed; Passing Strange; Motherf**ker with the Hat; Topdog/Underdog; Cool Papa's Party' Gut Bucket Blues; Sty Of The Blind Pig; Two Trains Running. He is also an alumni of The Freddie Hendricks' Youth Ensemble of Atlanta.
BRAD MULHOLLAND (Saxophone). As a versatile performer on all types of saxophones, flutes and clarinets, Mulholland contributes his sound to a broad range of musical projects. When he is not teaching or playing for theatre, he is playing swing, funk, modern jazz, and improvised music.
CURTIS WILEY (Abee)'s 2015 highlight include Diner: The Musical at Delaware Theater Co.; Rothschild & Sons at York Theatre Co.; The Artist & The Scientist at CAP21; and Straight Faced Lies at Fringe NYC. His other NYC credits include Pageant: The Musical; The Great Society at York Shakespeare Co.; TUT at NYMF; King Lear with Exit, Pursued by a Bear; The Wild Party at Columbia Stages; as well as Jersey Boys, The Lion King; and Motown: The Musical. He is also an alumni of the Sundance Theatre Institute's Wig Out by Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Photo Credit: Sabine Scheckel