Datebook: Community Players Switch Things Around With Miscast Cabaret
A four-woman rock band from New Jersey hits it big in the 1960s. A Baltimore teen realizes his dream of dancing on the Corny Collins show.
Don’t worry, Broadway fans — we know that’s not the way "Jersey Boys" and "Hairspray" are traditionally cast.
But in miscast theater, that’s the point.
Community Players Theatre explores what goes right when the casting is all wrong with Miscast Cabaret, showing in-person and online at 7:30 p.m. July 22-24 and 2:30 p.m. July 25.
Jessa Hendricker is directing the show, which is the theater’s first in-person performance of 2021.
Hendricker said the theater received some timely grants and estate contributions that helped it survive the pandemic drought.
What: Community Players Theatre's Miscast Cabaret
When: 7:30 p.m. July 22-24 & 2:30 p.m. July 25
Where: Community Players Theatre, Bloomington, & streaming online
Tickets: $5-$10; must be purchased online in advance.
“We were able to stay afloat, but with how it’s been, you know, we wanted to allocate funds to what truly needed it,” she said.
The show also will be livestreamed, an acknowledgement of the ongoing transition to in-person activities.
“Not everyone is able to be vaccinated currently,” said Hendricker, adding people attending the show in-person will need to wear masks and there will be a reduced capacity at the theater.
Hendricker said choosing to return to the stage with a cabaret was partly influenced by the uncertain nature of the pandemic.
“Especially when we were planning this back in late winter, early spring, we didn’t know what COVID would be like,” she said. “So it was like, ‘Okay, how can we get a lot of people involved while also abiding by guidelines?’”
Miscast Cabaret also is a welcome change of pace for Community Players, Hendricker said.
“We’ve kind of done the same thing for a long time,” she said. “I know I personally wanted to direct this because I’ve had experience directing a Broadway review or cabaret style traditionally cast before, but after seeing other groups and entities do this, I was like, ‘This is something we could do and it would be fun.’”
Hendricker said viewers will recognize most songs in the lineup, but the performers won’t fit the traditional roles.
“So, whether that is swapping genders or having age differences, the actor is able to tell a story of something maybe they’ve experienced, but might not be able to share that on a stage traditionally,” she said.
Miscast Cabaret also is a chance for audiences to experience their favorite stories in a new way — and perhaps with a new understanding.
“The theater has been used for centuries to tell stories and to shed light on maybe stories that are more silenced or stories that are less heard,” said Hendricker. “By having this miscast role and having these stories told in this way, you can see that these stories aren’t just something singular.”
Besides songs from "Jersey Boys and "Hairspray," viewers will hear selections from "Wicked," "Sunset Boulevard," "Rent," "Chicago," "Hamilton" and other Broadway staples.
Hendricker said the theater plans to return to a full six-show season starting in September, but likely won’t maintain the livestream option beyond Miscast Cabaret.
“I know our focus will be in person audiences coming next season,” she said.
Tickets for Community Players Theatre’s Miscast Cabaret are available online only, including for in-person audience members.