‘Miscast Cabaret’ promises laughs, surprises for Theatre Collective fans

‘Miscast Cabaret’ promises laughs, surprises for Theatre Collective fans

Consider the cast: Aaron Young (“Little Shop of Horrors”); Mary Maxwell Dispensa (“The Revolutionists”); Trey Smith (“Heathers”); Edward Mountz (“It Shoulda Been You”); Stephanie Whitcomb (“Something Rotten”); Brittany Tavernaro (“Almost, Maine”); Patrick Edmunds (“Disaster”); Caity Church (“Grease,” “Peter Pan”); Sarah Riedmueller (“Cabaret”)…

And that’s less than half of the mainstays of Northwest Arkansas community theater performing in “Miscast Cabaret,” the latest production by the Theatre Collective of Northwest Arkansas.

What makes it “miscast”? You’ll get to see an evening of performers stepping outside the box — and outside their comfort zones. Did you know, for example, that Brittany Tavernaro can play the ukulele? Can you imagine Juliette Robinson and Bryan Guarino from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” doing comedy as “Bond, James Bond”? Picture Jan Riedmueller and Kate Taylor Williams as the princes from “Into the Woods.” Or recast the “Cell Block Tango” with men.

You begin to get the idea.

“As performers, there are so many songs that you’ll never get to sing in a show for one reason or another,” says Rachel Mills, the Theatre Collective’s executive director. “And I love that aspect of this show. And I always hope the performers get to experience the joy of sharing a human experience with an audience — especially since we’ve opened the door for them to tell stories they normally wouldn’t be asked to tell.”

And, she adds, “as an organization, we’re learning that we love a cabaret-style production. So it’s a great fit for our second production.”

Lexie Edmunds, who has been on the Arkansas Public Theatre stage since she was 16, is also stretching her wings as the director. She says she had the idea of turning the cabaret into a comedy show, “where things don’t always go as planned.”

“That’s one of the best parts about Theatre Collective, anyone can submit themselves and their ideas for future shows,” she says. “The idea for this show was one of those ideas that came to me while driving. People with ADHD can have things similar to specific superpowers. Mine has always been creativity — it just happens at really random times!

“I hope my performers take away a once in a lifetime performance with this show,” she adds. “From the beginning, I’ve felt very strongly that I wanted this to be a chance for them to break out of their box and truly live out a dream performance. I desperately wanted to give all of these talented people a way to express themselves. We have some that have been onstage since the ’70s, and one very talented little girl making her debut performance!”

Cora Rea of Rogers is 8, and “Miscast Cabaret” is her first show. She says singing “A Million Dreams” has “taken a lot of very hard work, but it’s been worth it! I’ve enjoyed working with everyone in the cast, and I’m thankful for all of their help” and she “is already practicing” for her next audition in November.

Rebecca McBride and Jordan Payne are vocal coaches — both well known to Northwest Arkansas audiences — but accompanist Jaina Kierre, who teaches piano in Rogers, is also expanding her skills as “our very own one (wo)man band,” McBride says.

Miranda Clark came straight from “Sweeney Todd” to be props coordinator and play a surprise role in “Miscast Cabaret.”

“I hope audiences take away a little something more than what they walked in there with,” she says. “In their minds or in their hearts, even if it’s just a lyric or a punchline that they can’t seem to forget. … I think art is most effective when it invites change in a person. And what I find most interesting is that will look different on everyone.

“What’s great about this miscast is it allows our performers to tap into things they may not traditionally get the opportunity to do — which will change them as well to some degree. Art imitating life and all that, right? And I just think that’s the neatest!”


‘Miscast Cabaret’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Aug. 26 & 2 p.m. Aug. 27

WHERE — The Medium, 214 S. Main St. in Springdale

COST — $15-$20

INFO — theatrecollectivenwa.org

BONUS — See video from a “Miscast Cabaret” rehearsal at WHERE.

Categories: Theater