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Miscast: April 24 – 7:30 PM

When I was 9 years old I saw Wicked for the first time.  It was my first Broadway show, and even though I had seen community theatre stuff done at the LaCrosse Community Theatre (in LaCrosse, WI where I lived at the time) it was the first thing that really brought my jaw to the floor and ignited my love for the performing arts.

Wicked’s flagship number is Defying Gravity, the act one finale.  It’s a power ballad that only escalates (literally) as it progresses.  And though I have now seen hundreds of shows and listened to even more cast albums, I have never quite seen or heard another moment in musical theatre that quite lives up.

Unfortunately for me, Defying Gravity is sung by the protagonist of Wicked, Elphaba.  The Wicked Witch of the West (who is a woman), and it has always been my favorite song.  For the last thirteen years, I have sung it in the shower, the car, performed it for no one when I’m home alone, screamed it jokingly at other people who have the misfortune of driving with me, and so on.  But I’ve never actually performed it legitimately in front of a group of people.  On April 24th, that will change.

 

As an Arts Administration major, I am required to put on an arts-related capstone event in order to graduate.  It was immediately obvious to me that I would do some kind of musical performance, but I did not know exactly what I should do.  But it didn’t take me long to realize that I could do something a little more out of the box than just singing any song.  I have a lot of fun singing male songs, and have played some absolutely incredible roles throughout my life.  However, I wanted my last performance at Behrend to be something different, and I knew I wanted it to be my favorite song.

Miscast, which will be begin at 7:30 on April 24th in Reed 117, features a group of incredibly talented Behrend students singing songs from Broadway musicals.  However, each of them will be stepping outside of their gender for an evening and performing songs that are sung by the opposite gender in the shows from which they come.  Not only will I be singing Defying Gravity from Wicked, but myself and others will be singing songs from Waitress (the Sara Bareilles musical currently dominating on Broadway), Once and even Hamilton (heard of it?).  

 

The event is based on a concert series in New York City of the same name, performed by Broadway stars at a concert gig called 54 Below.  It’s fun and creative, but it also allows people to step outside of songs and parameters that they would normally be limited by.  I can be Elphaba for a night.  My incredibly masculine (and talented) friend Anthony can step into the shoes of Jenna, a downtrodden but hopeful young woman with a talent for making pies.  

While this is a fun event, it adds by default an interesting contribution to a discussion about gender, feminism and equality.  A man stepping into a woman’s shoes for a night can be done so for laughs, but it can also truly show the universal nature of needs, hopes, dreams, desires and wants regardless of gender.  Elphaba wants to be her own person.  Jenna wants to find herself again after years of feeling numb.  Alexander Hamilton wants to take his shot.  These are broad themes not limited by gender.

 

It has been really cool to watch so many people I know take part in this.  So many confident singers have taken a pause and had to re-evaluate their vocals and song choices, because of range, character, and what fits them best.  It’s been interesting to see the way that men relate to women’s songs and the way women relate to men’s songs.  In the end, they all have found their groove and that something in the lyrics that ties them to it.  People have switched songs.  People have picked songs that are fast, slow, serious, funny, traditional, contemporary and so on.  Gender has not limited them.  And that’s how it should be.

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Kyle Filbeck

PS Behrend

I like Hillary Clinton, Kelly Clarkson, Wicked and you.
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