By Brian Scott Lipton
“Mistake, Misstep, Outcast,” actor Steven Boyer joked about the name of MCC Theater’s annual “Miscast” benefit on Monday, March 31 at the Hammerstein Ballroom. But there could be no question that this star-studded fundraiser was an unforgettable evening.
The event – which was hosted by Tony nominee Victor Garber and honored film, television, and stage star Allison Janney – was a star-studded affair, with such top-flight talents as Jane Krakowski, Stephanie J. Block, Nicholas Rodriguez, Tom Wopat, and Evan Jongkeit in the audience. And they all cheered loudly as 10 terrific performers strutted their stuff during the 90-minute “Miscast” show that concluded the benefit, which let these luminaries perform songs they would never be allowed to do in a traditional stage and film setting.
Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan wowed the crowd twice, first with a vocally soaring version of the smash-hit Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” (from “Frozen”) and then by concluding the show with a daring medley of “Over The Rainbow” (from “The Wizard of Oz”) and “Home” (from “The Wiz”) that earned the handsome actor a well-deserved standing ovation.
In a clever bit of staging, Jordan’s final turn was preceded by “Girls” star Zosia Mamet and some very athletic dancers performing “Seize the Day,” one of Jordan’s signature tunes from “Newsies.” Intriguingly, Mamet wasn’t the only familiar television face at the event: Sasha Allen, a semi-finalist on NBC’s “The Voice,” raised the roof with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (from “Jersey Boys”) and “Bring Him Home” (from “Les Miserables”); former “MADtv” star Nicole Parker belted “I Believe” (from “The Book of Mormon”); ex-“Rescue Me” star (and current “Bridges of Madison County” leading man) Steven Pasquale thrilled with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (from “Carousel”); and the great Raul Esparza – now co-starring on “Law & Order: SVU” –earned thunderous applause by teaming with Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda on the duet “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” (from “West Side Story”) and serving up a heart-wrenching “My Man” (from “Funny Girl”).
As it happens, the adorable Joey Taranto also chose a selection from “Funny Girl”, the zippy “I’m The Greatest Star,” while his current “Kinky Boots” co-star, 2013 Tony winner Billy Porter, gave a jazzy spin to “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (from “Gypsy.”). But perhaps the evening’s biggest piece of miscasting – and funniest segment – was watching the burly Marc Kudisch take on “Popular” (from “Wicked”), which was sung directly to a clearly embarrassed Janney, his co-star in the Broadway musical “9 to 5.” To say it was a popular selection with the audience would be an understatement!
Photos/Video: Sandi Durell
Interviews: Brian Scott Lipton