The Public Theater Shifts THE TOTAL BENT Performances to Begin 2/24


The Public Theater announced new February dates today for THE TOTAL BENT by Stew and Heidi Rodewald and directed by Joanna Settle. The shift in dates for this Public Lab production is due to an unforeseen construction-related delay that prevented the show from getting into the theater on the scheduled start date. The Public Theater's building renovation has been underway since fall 2008 and is expected to be completed on time this summer.

This world premiere musical, with book and lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, was originally scheduled to run February 14 through March 4 and will now run February 24 through March 18, with an additional performance added. Tickets for THE TOTAL BENT are on sale now. All tickets for Public Lab productions are $15 and can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555 or visiting

As a result of THE TOTAL BENT schedule change, the Public Forum with Stew, Heidi Rodewald and Michael Cerveris on Monday, February 27 at 9:30 p.m. at Joe's Pub will be postponed to a later date.

The complete cast for THE TOTAL BENT features Kenny Brawner (Musician), Eddie R. Brown III (Abee), David Cale (Byron), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Joe Roy), Harriett D. Foy (Your Imaginary Friend), William Jackson Harper (Marty Boy), Damian Lemar Hudson (Deacon Dennis), and Julian Rozzell Jr. (Andrew).

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 and ACME Sound Partners.
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's 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:

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.

Kenny Brawner (Musician) has appeared on Broadway in the musical comedy Censored Scenes From King Kong. In 1979 he appeared in the film version of Hair. He also appeared on an episode of "Soul Train," performing with the band Raw Sugar.

EDDIE R. Brown III (Abee) is making his Public Theater debut in The Total Bent. He previously appeared in The Brothers Size at Seattle Repertory Theatre and Passing Strange and After the War at Sundance Theater Lab, where he was a member of the 2011 Acting Company. His television credits include "Rescue Me."

David Cale (Byron) has appeared on Broadway in The Threepenny Opera and Present Laughter. His Off-Broadway credits include Mouth to Mouth, Two Thousand Years, Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky, and Betwixt, as well as his solo performances, A Likely Story, Redthroats, and Lillian, for which he won an Obie Award. He has appeared in such films and television programs as Coming Up Roses, The Slaughter Rule, Two Lovers, Illuminata, Pollock, and "Law & Order."

Vondie Curtis-Hall (Joe Roy) has appeared on Broadway in Stardust, Dreamgirls, Lena Horne: "The Lady and Her Music," and It's So Nice to Be Civilized. His film and television credits include Romeo + Juliet, Die Hard 2, Broken Arrow, "Chicago Hope," and "ER."

Harriett D. Foy (Your Imaginary Friend) appeared on Broadway in The American Plan, Mamma Mia!, and Once on This Island. Off-Broadway she has appeared in On the Levee, Slut, Lone Star Love, Crowns, Dinah Was, and Inside Out. On television she has appeared on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

William Jackson Harper (Marty Boy) was recently seen at The Public Theater in Titus Andronicus. He has performed Off-Broadway in A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick, Ruined, Paradise Park, and Queens Boulevard (the musical). His film credits include All Good Things, Transferants, and the upcoming That's What She Said. He has appeared on television in "The Electric Company," "30 Rock," and "Law & Order."

Damian Lemar Hudson (Deacon Dennis) is making his Public Theater debut in The Total Bent. He previously appeared in Violet at the University of Arizona and High Crimes at the Live Theatre Workshop in Tucson, Arizona, for which he also wrote the book, music, and lyrics.

Julian Rozzell Jr. (Andrew) is making his Public Theater debut in The Total Bent. He recently appeared on television in "Boardwalk Empire." His film credits include Noctambulous and Following Bliss.

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.

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