THE STORY: 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.
“…blazingly entertaining…fresh and funny…THE TOTAL BENT keeps you hooked through the surging power of its sensational score, which blends elements of the blues, gospel, funk and throbbing guitar-driven rock. Stew’s lyrics, too, are a consistent pleasure…an ecstatic combination of revival meeting and rock concert.” —NY Times. “…daring…a shaggy, idiosyncratic patchwork of Civil Rights–era satire, father-son drama and an allegory about the birth of funk…the music is funky, fierce and sticky-sweet…” —Time Out NY. “…a religious experience of the highest caliber…The music…is revelatory. Stew and Rodewald have created a thrilling…score that deftly blends gospel and blues with the style of rock and roll burgeoning during the period in which THE TOTAL BENT is set. Lyrically, the songs are sharp and often bitingly funny…thoroughly mesmerizing from start to finish.” —TheaterMania.com. “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.” —Deadline.com.