Musical theater begs for satire, and who better to execute it than the performers of Miscast, the five-year-old musical comedy show that lives by the credo: “Right singer, wrong song,” and takes place at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal.
As I understand it, the mischievously adorable Mandy Kaplan has been assembling a group of new and returning actor / singers every few months to showcase about a dozen musical send-ups each time, and this was their 16th show. And all this happens in North Hollywood where, as many of you know, I fear that nothing ever happens.
So imagine my delight to find one of my besties, Krista Sutton, hooked up with a night of hilarity in my neighborhood. Huzzah! She was indeed miscast terribly as Billy from Carousel, the 1956 musical about a guy who comes back from the dead, given a second chance to right his wrongs with his pregnant wife. Solioquy is the long and winding song he sings about his unborn child. Krista got busy hilariously milking all the sexist male 50’s clichés, only to have Mandy Kaplan burst in telling her she’d gone on long enough and she had to get off the stage already….play within the play! We were loving it. Later, Krista re-surfaces, sneaking back on stage to finish her epic number and gets chased all over the room by Tom W Metz III who had previously belted out the whitest Ain’t Too Proud to Beg you’ve ever heard.
One of my faves was the four-foot-ten Miki Yamashita, who immediately declared her gratitude for being “nowhere near the stage when the Miss Saigon number was on.” She proceeded to embody the character of Walter Lee Younger from Raisin – the musical adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun – basically a grumpy African-American dude complaining about women. Hilarity ensued! Also, you should check out her Twitter feed – it’s fucking funny. And she sings opera!
The Miss Saigon number, incidentally, was performed by Mandy Kaplan herself who went out on a spectacular limb as three separate characters in the middle of a dramatic moment. Clearly her work as a voice actor has beautifully prepared her for the particular blend of head-spinning timing and sarcasm that make a musical comedy spoof soar. Brava!
Another must-see (not that you’ll see it next time, sucka, it’ll be a whole new show) was the cutting humor of Richard Hellstern working the big mama style of Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid. He got a slightly-less-than-willing volunteer from the audience to come up and play the part of Ariel, then berated him for not having taken acting lessons. Next, Justin Michael Wilcox killed it doing a “straight” Life is A Cabaret.
I think everyone’s favorite might have been the final number where Will Collyer – being as white as he could – belted out Circle of Life from The Lion King, complete with the African style shouting at the beginning. The middle aged African-American guy in front of me was laughing so hard his glasses were slipping off his face. It was funny. And the laughs kept coming as all the actors from the evening proceeded to parade around Collyer pretending to be wild animals while he played a – wait for it – recorder solo!
And speaking of music, the piano player / singer who never left the stage throughout the whole hour-plus show was Brett Ryback. He tirelessly and flawlessly executed the music for all the performers to the point where I forgot he was there half the time. Then suddenly a second voice would materialize in a call-and-response song and I’d realize again, “Right, all this music is live.” Impressive.
And as if THAT weren’t enough, the proceeds from the show go to Project Angel Food. Win-win, people. I’ll see you there next time.