This is most definitely a hot weekend for theater! On Sunday, May 16 at 8 p.m., MCC Theater’s annual fundraiser, Miscast21 will premiere on their YouTube Channel. “Un-Block The Music” discovered this amazing fundraiser a few years back when one of my favorite performers, Aaron Tveit, sang “Take Me Or Leave Me” with Gavin Creel from one of my favorite shows Rent. You get the point…actors will perform songs created by characters they would not traditionally play.
Aaron and Gavin will reunite for a new duet at this year’s event. The musical director will be another of “Un-Block The Music’s” favorites, Will Van Dyke. While players are revealed, songs are top secret, according to Scott Galina, producer.
In addition to Aaron and Gavin, who can we look forward to seeing? Annaleigh Ashford, Melissa Barrera, Robin de Jesús, Renée Elise Goldsberry Leslie Grace, Cheyenne Jackson, Jai’Len Josey, LaChanze, Idina Menzel, Kelli O’Hara (who is also in Breathe this weekend), Billy Porter, Kelly Marie Tran, and Patrick Wilson.
“Un-Block The Music” can’t help to make the connection between what is happening in the theater community now with what Miscast conveys. Let’s shake off the past and look to the future with nontraditional, new ways of casting. Casting director Bernie Telsey has been putting this show together for more than 20 years. He was ahead of his time. Scott says MCC can’t take credit for creating the change, but are certainly happy that they have been on the cutting edge.
A lot of excitement surrounds the show this year “with the feeling, we will never do it this way again as we transition back to in-person events,” Scott says. The sense is, “we will see you this Summer somewhere in person and back in the theater this Fall.”
Does that mean, virtual theater will disappear whenlive theater resumes? Scott says, “there is no way to go back.” Benefits of making performances as accessible as possible to everyone outweighs any perceived negatives. “While the goal is to get people to come out to live theater, sometimes it is just not feasible for a myriad of reasons. Why not open every avenue that you can now that we have all learned so much about how to do it well,” says Scott.
“Un-Block The Music” correlates livestreaming with the VCR back in the day. The movie industry resisted it, thinking it would kill movies. In reality, more excitement was created. People are afraid of change, but I expect 10 years from now (maybe less than that), the theater industry will look back and think…why did it take so long for “us” to go virtual?
All of the technology aside, Scott says, “The show is really about great people singing great songs. You don’t have to be a musical theater aficionado to appreciate it. There is something for everyone. It’s fun, exciting and moves fast. We do it with intention. It’s amazing to see what people respond to most.” And then, there is Will Van Dyke. “Will has such a great sensibility. His arrangements are dynamic. He can open up a song and put it back together in a totally different genre. Will can take a classic soprano song, he can make it a big band arrangement for a guy instead. Or he can take a classic show tune and turn it into pop/rock. As a professional and as a person, no one is better than Will.”
Tickets for Miscast21 are free, but donations are encouraged. Funds raised will go to all facets of MCC programs with money going to the public schools so that students can come to theater to learn. Other money goes to programming and public engagement programs like talk backs after the show. When you register for your show ticket, “Un-Block The Music” encourages readers to explore the MCC website at https://mcctheater.org/.Also, if this article and the show is of interest to you, here are some other “Un-Block The Music” stories you might like: