Will Ellis took to the stage of Pearson 128 in a striking pair of black high heels. In his unusual apparel, Ellis proceeded to delight his audience with a hilarious rendition of “Ladies Who Lunch” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” a song originally written for a woman. This was just the beginning of a night of gender bending musical performances.
Miami University’s Stage Left premiered their first Miscast Cabaret Saturday night. A miscast cabaret is an opportunity to perform songs traditionally written for individuals opposite of your identified gender.
After Ellis, junior Emily Kapnick sang “Waving Through a Window” from Broadway’s recent hit “Dear Evan Hansen.” Kapnick chose this song to explore the themes of anxiety and depression.
Junior Caroline Bastian, one of Kapnick’s sorority sisters, was particularly moved by Kapnick’s performance and expressed great pride in her friend.
“I haven’t seen her perform in a really long time,” Bastian said. “This was so awesome.”
Stage Left’s One Acts chair Jessica Cooper and workshop chair Al Oliver III were the facilitators of the cabaret and were responsible for introducing the nine featured acts.
“There’s this organization, Broadway Backwards, that does a Miscast Cabaret every year where big Broadway names come out and perform songs,” Cooper said. “Al and I watched videos of the cabaret, where women would sing songs written for men and vice versa, and we thought it would be a fun.”
The theatre community welcomes members who identify as LGBTQ+. The idea behind this Miscast Cabaret was to allow people to comfortably play with gender roles and push the boundaries of social norms.
“Theatre is a great place to experiment,” said Cooper. “And overall, our mission was to try something new and fun, something you normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to do.”
The cabaret also served as an opportunity for those not currently involved in a Stage Left production to perform, but with a smaller time commitment and lower budget than Stage Left’s regular shows.
First-year political science, English literature and philosophy major Brandon Small was thrilled to perform in the cabaret. He stopped performing after high school and has been longing for an opportunity like this. Small sang “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.”
“This was a great opportunity for me to sort of dip my feet back into being on stage and doing what I love,” said Small. “I recently went through a devastating breakup and definitely resonated a lot with Effie’s character. It’s raw, it’s vulnerable and it’s so damn catchy.”
The wide range of song selections helped to move the show along and keep audience members engaged. Freshman Morgan Eakin was impressed with Stage Left’s take on this performance type.
“I haven’t seen this sort of thing in real life,” said Eakin. “Just recordings. It’s more fun in person, especially when you know the people in it and you have a connection.”
Hoping to have more cabarets in the future, this Miscast Cabaret served as a “trial run” to understand what worked well and what can be improved on for the future. The cabaret was really about having fun, and Cooper exemplified this by singing “Never Getting Rid of Me” from “Waitress.”
“It’s too low for my voice, but I don’t really care because I’m having fun doing it,” said Cooper. “The song is funny, awkward and dorky, and I can relate to that.”