Trent (the storyteller) has a drink, a smoke and cleanse house. Feeling older, but not wiser, an unable to make sense of his cluttered surroundings, he looks back so that he can move forward.
Picture Incomplete is about considering and being considered, while examining the neat little boxes into which we put each other and ourselves. On this journey we meet Clarence (a homeless man), Mavis (a know-it-all neighbor) and her two sons DeRon (a pretend thug) and Fred Jr. (an emerging Gay Fashion Designer living life on his own terms). We also spend time with a pill-pushing psychiatrist called Dr.Feelgood and a prophetic preacher called Righteous Reverend who sends Sista Goins on to her glory and urges his congregation to “Be Incomplete!”.
While most of us search for completeness, Picture Incomplete suggests that incomplete is the “new” complete. A testimony that we will always be learning and growing.
— Oscar E. Moore from TalkEntertainment.com
“Which came first – the original CD cast recording of a one man musical – PICTURE INCOMPLETE starring Trent Armand Kendall (book) or a live production of the show itself? Mr. Kendall, recently on tour with The Color Purple, is personable and endowed with a powerful and sensitive singing voice. And yes, he is quite funny. Especially as Mavis, whose son has a talent for fashion and a flair for designing her showy hats. We also get to meet a homeless man – Clarence “The Other Way” a moving song about how we judge people from their looks and if we don’t like what we see – well, we look the other way. And Dr. Feelgood. And Righteous Reverend. You get the picture. It is the Storyteller’s fortieth birthday and it’s time for him to take stock, clean out his closet on West 104th Street and try and look back – “can’t move forward till you look back” to see why his life is still incomplete. It’s an interesting concept. It’s a little bit of Stew in Passing Strange. It’s a little bit of Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry parading around as feisty grand-mamas and a whole lot of Trent Armand Kendall – who is certainly up to the job at hand. The songs are by the gifted Michael Polese – philosophical, soul searching, foot stomping and questioning. Most impressive is the title song “Picture Incomplete.” But, “Walk-In Closet” – “I Looked it Up” and “Blind” are equally as good. I have to add that the musical director Adam Klipple, who played keyboard and organ fantastically, is also responsible for the incredible arrangements. So will it make it to Broadway? It’s off to a good start. Incomplete premiered regionally at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts (formerly Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center), The University of Missouri-Columbia and The Dallas Convention Center (The Black Academy of Arts & Letters). Trent had us all thinking positive about a legit New York opening. As we all search for completeness in our lives, perhaps Storyteller is right is saying that it is better to remain incomplete – “because there’s always more to learn”.”
— TALKIN’ BROADWAY-Theatre Review by Matthew Murray
“PICTURE INCOMPLETE is an ode to the joy of discovery. PICTURE INCOMPLETE, a new musical! starring TRENT ARMAND KENDALL The New York International Fringe Festival”
— NIGHTLIFE Exchange, Review by Andrew Martin
“Aren’t one-man musicals and I mean real musicals, not just concerts a drag Isn’t what makes a musical unique the way its characters bond through melody and harmony, and how conflicts resolve themselves in song and dance when all your senses tell you they shouldn’t? Ultimately, aren’t these the most pointless of all the form dead-ends? Yes, yes, and yes. But when you discover a good one and a good (or better) performer just try to hang on to your prejudices. Doing so is well-nigh impossible at Picture Incomplete, the jolting solo variety show in the New York International Fringe Festival that’s putting Trent Armand Kendall to better use than his book shows in New York have. These include, in case you’ve forgotten, Bat Boy (Off-Broadway) and the 2002 revival of Into the Woods. But he’s magnetically memorable as he plows through Michael Polese’s music and lyrics and his own book and lyrics: He captures, in color-suffused detail and supple voice, the feel and the sound of structured New York loneliness. The story, to the extent there is one, is that this man (referred to in the program only as The Storyteller) is celebrating his birthday in front of his Manhattan apartment building with the trunk that contains the crumpled remnants of his life, and his going through it and his even more cluttered mind reminds him that life and faith are far more than abstract concepts. Trite? Well, okay, on some level. But as The Storyteller explores the nooks and crannies of his brain and unearths an unending stream of colorful personalities, the depth of his world come into crystal-clear focus, which provides a weight and satisfying tang that keep you engaged even when the story dissolves into abject nothingness. (This process begins about two scenes from the end.) The songs, which are energetically rendered by musical director Adam Klipple and his two bandmates, paint vivid portraits of The Storyteller and his friends who are all searching for meaning of life the way he is. “ Looked It Up,” about a dictionary impact on the everyday, is an early rouser, while “A Father’s Lament” is a soulful plaint from a man who’ll never know the children he fathered and “Walk-In Closet” goes all in on treating some curiously unsuccessful coming-out attempts. Then there’s the obligatory gospel finale, which drives home the message that you’ve never as broken or as fixed as you think you are. This element is the show’s least original, and doesn’t do much to pull this already conventional outing away from the abyss of predictability. But with the steel-throated Kendall, who’s at once a huggable lug of a stage presence and a startlingly versatile character actor (his nosey matrons are eerie in their acuity), you never feel you’re hearing or seeing anything quite as familiar as you actually are. Kendall, Polese, and director Greg Ganakas create an all-too-real fantasy version of New York, with people you almostbut- don’t-quite recognize in other words, they transport you, which is more than many bigger musicals can manage. Kendall proves that heart is all you really need, and he’s got more than enough to sculpt the whole Upper West Side.
VENUE #6: The Club @ LA MAMA Fri 27 @ 3:45pm”
— NEXT Magazine, New York
“Kendall Is Completely Picture Perfect in LaMama Fringe ShowBy now, the name of Trent Armand Kendall is hardly unfamiliar to New York’s cultural intelligentsia or the worldwide sphere, whether for his work on Broadway or concerts here and abroad. But it is with his unequivocally prodigious offering of the one-man musical show Picture Incomplete at LaMama, presented as part of this summer’s Fringe Festival, that he is afforded the chance to dazzle as never before. Even when it reminds us, as in his own words, that “When you’re life’s a oneman show, you take your curtain calls alone,” and all the solitude that comes with that happenstance. To which more than a few in the full-to-bursting audience can relate, your humble writer included. While splitting the main narrative between the characters of The Storyteller (on the night of his birthday and simultaneous eviction, no less), Sista Goins, neighbor Mavis and The Reverend besides himself, Kendall accomplishes something here that goes way beyond his foreknown talents as a singer and physical acrobat; in this show, he is at long last allowed to display his incredible prowess as an actor beyond belief. The musical aspects, as written by the gentleman in tandem with the outstanding and brilliant composer/lyricist Michael Polese, naturally glisten with an impeccable luster. This is more than partially the result of Greg Ganakas’s direction of the evening as well as musical director Adam Klipple (who provides his own stellar talents on keyboards) and both bassist Sam Minaie and Michael Nappi on percussion. The entire effort, in short, simply is given no room to fail; it rises like a phoenix at every possible turn. Standout spoken moments as well as musical ones include “Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock,” “The Other Way,” the sensational “I Looked It Up,” and “Walk-In Closet,” a gentle treatment of not coming out of the closet so much as staying there and simply inviting everybody therein. In addition, “Dr. Feelgood” is beautifully funky (and no, it’s not the Aretha Franklin chestnut but something entire new and gorgeously crafted), and Kendall completely slays the throng with “Anyplace But Where You Are” before the brilliantlyanthemic “Should Be” and winding up the evening with “Incomplete.” Picture Incomplete, and Trent Armand Kendall, deserve as much attention as possible, Please, pay attention. And please, pay for a ticket. This is simply too good to miss.”
— Fringe Festival review 4STARS: Posted in Upstaged by Adam Feldman on August 16th, 2010 at 4:24 pm
“Trent Armand Kendall’s PICTURE INCOMPLETE is a revelation. Funky, Fierce & Fabulous! Kendall examines what it means to be an human being through monologues and songs, lending his rich, soaring tenor to the words and music of collaborator Michael Polese.”
— Lisa Levinson, TIME OUT, NEW YORK BACKSTAGE
“On the occasion of his birthday, the Storyteller who came to New York with hopes of being the next Luther Vandross, enjoys a drink, smokes a little weed and ponders the state of his life through song and dance in this highly enjoyable solo show, which aims to show that you can’t look forward until you look back. Michael Polese’s music and lyrics deserve special mention, as does the three-man band led by Adam Klipple on piano and organ. But what really makes the evening sing is author-star Trent Armand Kendall, who not only has an amazing voice but also moves smoothly and skillfully between comedic and serious moments. The upbeat message of his show is that if the picture is incomplete, it’s because there’s always more to learn. It’s a pleasure to hear him teach.”
— Photo by James Alexander PICTURE INCOMPLETE, A NEW MUSICAL! nytheatre.com review Brad Lee Thomason August 15, 2010
“Picture Incomplete, a new musical! starring Trent Armand Kendall Reviewed by Clifford Lee Johnson III August 17, 2010 By the time Trent Armand Kendall’s one-man musical ends, he is wrung out and we are infused with the kind of glow that only a superlative performance can kindle. In 90 minutes, Kendall sings, creates a number of delicious characters, descends into the audience to work the crowd, and even turns somersaults as he paints a picture of his life on the eve of his turning 40. Though the piece tends to ramble and ultimately leaves us with little that’s original or provocative, Kendall’s prodigious abilities and director Greg Ganakas’ skillful pacing make it into a highly enjoyable and satisfying evening.The score, by Kendall and Michael Polese, features a couple of sweet melodies and some clever lyrics. Kendall’s has a ferocious talent!”
— Onemoe Music Productions | Onemoe@aol.com | 917.971.9821
“The loose story we’re told in Picture Incomplete, a new musical written and performed by Trent Armand Kendall with a trio of talented musicians behind him, is not a new or original one: a young man moves away from his home to the big city to pursue his dreams and finds obstacles he didn’t expect; and with the wisdom of some improbable characters he learns how to cope with the unpredictable world around him and eventually finds self-actualization through the struggle. No, the idea itself is not original, but this is Trent’s story, these are his struggles; and the way he relates them in this 90 minute tour-de-force performance is very uniquely his. We find Trent at the beginning of the show going through a big old chest of memories and selfmedicating a slight depression caused by the realization that he is another year older and looking straight into the face of middle age. Although I may not be, as in Trent’s case, a Black homosexual who has battled with obesity, the questions he asks are easy for anyone to relate to: what have I accomplished? What does my life mean? Were the choices I made the right ones? Are the choices that I knew were wrong going to haunt me forever? Sure, I may never have to deal with the challenges that Trent faces, but he certainly doesn’t claim to be a victim of circumstance. His message is we all have to face our demons eventually; and throughout this performance Trent faces his with a blend of humor, humanity, and self-awareness that is altogether endearing and delightful. It doesn’t hurt, by the way, that Trent is an extremely gifted performer with a show-stopping Broadway voice and some surprisingly soft shoes for a man of his build. It was probably also a good idea for him to team up with a host of other obviously talented artists like Michael Polese, who wrote the music, Greg Ganakas, who directs, and of course his band, Adam Klipple, Sam Minaie, and Michael Nappi, who back him up brilliantly. The talent of Kendall as a character actor is also striking as he personifies several people including his busybody upstairs neighbor, an over-the-top preacher, and a desperate homeless man. These could easily be reduced to caricatures in the hands of a lesser performer, but Trent makes all of them very genuine. Although the show is strong in its more poignant moments (when he sympathizes with a down-on-hisluck homeless man or laments about his missed chances at fatherhood), it is especially successful when the reaction is unexpected like the upbeat and snappy number “Walk-In Closet” where he deals with professing his homosexuality to friends and family. Although the gravity behind his problem isn’t diminished, the song is of a type that makes it hard to keep from clapping along. This type of positive take on some of the more serious issues he addresses keeps the show from ever getting too dark, and kept me engaged and snapping along the whole time. Picture Incomplete seems to be a bit of a magnum opus for Kendall, and is obviously a labor of love. His passion, his connection to the work, and his enthusiasm all show, and he delivers what can only be described as a truly excellent 90 minutes of live theatre and music.”
Trent Armand Kendall Originally from St. Louis Mo. and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia (B.A. Theatre Performance) Theater credits include: Dreamgirls, Is there Life After Highschool?, Dangerous Music by Tom Eyen & Henry Krieger, Greater Tuna, The Bar…