David Cale, William Jackson Harper and Vondie Curtis-Hall performed in THE TOTAL BENT. Photo Credit: Joseph Moran
The Total Bent is a very interesting name for a new off-Broadway play that recently opened at The Public Theater (455 Lafayette Street in Manhattan). Written and composed by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the creators of Tony-Award-Winning Passing Strange, this neo-soul-gospel production puts many in the audience totally bent in a variety of directions—mentally bent that is. From the get-go as you look around the cozy, closed in venue with grandiose rusting pillars, we can tell that this theater gives a home to very entertaining and raw environments. It is all a very informal set-up, but the musical instruments and other assorted props on the stage remind us that we do have a show to watch. And with great attention did the audience watch, trying to consume as much information as they could—although the play certainly left a lot of questions roving about unanswered as to just what message Stew was trying to convey to us. This wasn’t so much of a phase of confusion as it was a long moment of enchantment.
This “enchantment” I speak of, comes entirely from the styles of music that was featured throughout the show. The opening number was a loud and strange ruckus of sounds that didn’t do very well in giving us a clue as to what we were about to encounter. Piercing sounds of laughter and soulful singing could be heard in a jumbled fashion, alongside random clangs and space sounds and sporadic beats. [click to continue….]
When scoping out entertainment—whether it’s a football game, or a musical concert—people’s motive is often to get away from the reality of the world and have a good time. They want to escape from their sorrows and pains. Such escape was found in “Bird with Strings”, a Jazz special featured at the Jazz at Lincoln Center. From the opening entrance, Vincent Gardner—the musical director of the night—emphasized the fact that everyone in the audience would be having a good time. He called the venue “House of Strings” before establishing that the string instruments (violins, harps, etc) would not actually be featured until the second half of the show. This left the audience in expectation as to what to expect from the grand set list, beginning with the legendary pieces of Charlie Parker.
As the first song of the evening, “Charlie’s Wig” began to play; a great sense of the spirit of the 1950′s swam through the venue. This came as no surprise as the late composer’s music came from the swing of early ’50s and embodied the emotions of that era. [click to continue….]
Although it would seem that the importance of a game would be the adventure, for fans of Final Fantasy, it is all about the musical journey. If one were not an avid player of the video game, they may not have understood the excitement that was laced throughout the auditorium of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The eagerness could be seen—even through flamboyant hair and costume—and in a mixed crowd of people. While they were prepared, the inexperienced found themselves vulnerable to the unexpected. The music was very different from what was anticipated and the energy by which it was received was seemingly mind blowing. [click to continue….]