At last night’s Miscast, the annual gala benefiting MCC Theater, Sweeney Todd got a dose of Crazy Eyes.
In Miscast, Broadway stars perform songs as characters they’d likely never otherwise get a chance to play. This year, Orange Is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba, using a British accent, took on the role of the murderous barber of Fleet Street to sing “A Little Priest” alongside her Mrs. Lovett, embodied by Pitch Perfect‘s Ben Platt. Doing Miscast was a “dream” of Aduba’s, she told EW.
“I don’t know anybody who is a music theater fan who does not love Sondheim—who would not want to sing something of his, and then more specifically something from that show,” she said. “It’s Sondheim. We’re having a good time up there. It’s so much fun. I feel alive.”
Platt and Aduba put on an apron and coat, respectively, to get into character, and roamed through the audience as they pitched possible professions for pies.
Although Miscast inherently invites humor, some performers simply decided to deliver affecting versions of their songs: Andrew Rannells had a powerful take on Stephen Schwartz’s “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife, and Jessie Mueller’s “Johanna,” also from Sweeney, was sweetly sung. Joshua Henry used Mueller, who won a Tony for playing Carole King, as a gag when he started doing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” but then ended up delivering a killer performance.
Others doubled down on the silliness. Masters of Sex‘s Annaleigh Ashford donned a silver unitard, enlisted Rannells as her Dorothy, and ended in the splits when doing the Tin Man’s “Slide Some Oil To Me” from The Wiz, fulfilling a high school dream. Ashford, who was in the original cast of Kinky Boots, also opened the evening in that musical’s trademark footwear to sing her co-star Billy Porter’s song “Land of Lola.” She declared: “Tonight, I’m giving you full boot.”
Laura Benanti did The Sound of Music‘s “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” as a gum-chewing, Tinder-swiping Liesl opposite Christopher Fitzgerald’s Rolf. “To face a world of men—swipe left,” she sang. A group of men (including Platt, Jeremy Jordan, and Joshua Henry) did a version of “Cell Block Tango,” which also featured Chicago revival director Walter Bobbie as Velma Kelly. During Velma’s part, Bobbie subbed in the names of producer Fran Weissler, who was one of the gala’s honorees, and her husband Barry.
Weissler was honored in tandem with Sarah Paulson, the latter of whom described the recognition to EW as “very exciting and very moving and totally vomit inducing.”
“MCC was one of the theater companies that I think embraced me first, and I worked there a lot in the beginning. It helped make me better because you only get good by doing,” Paulson said. “So they let me come to the party, and it made me feel like I maybe had a shot at making a living doing this. And now they are honoring me and I just hate them for it.”