30 DAYS, 30 BOUQUETS
Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast 2016
Presented by Denver actor Clint Heyn
It was just … so wrong. Even for Miscast, where every performance is supposed to be, by definition, just … so wrong.
Imagine precious children not just singing the signature song from the Broadway musical Chicago – the one where the sexy gangster girls brag about how they ended up in jail for killing men who, as the song goes, “had it coming.”
No, imagine precious, foul-mouthed children playing beloved storybook characters singing about how they ended up in jail for killing archrivals who also had it coming. Sorry, Mrs. Hannigan, but you made Little Orphan Annie scrub your floor once too often. Mrs. Trunchbull? You ought not to have called Matilda a maggot. And Javert? Perhaps you should have paid attention when sweet Gavroche gave full and fair warning that little people have got some bite.
Then there’s Peter Pan, Dorothy and Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, Red. Let’s just have her tell her story in her own words:
“So I’m standing in the kitchen carving some lunch meat for Granny’s dinner, and in walks the wolf in a jealous rage. ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ He was crazy, and he kept on saying, ‘You’ve been (bleeping) Jack!’ … And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife 10 times.”
The occasion for all this naughty merriment was Miscast, an annual fundraising musical revue for the Denver Actors Fund at the Town Hall Arts Center featuring performers in roles they would never … ever be cast to perform in real life. Another song that night, for example, featured veteran actor John Ashton singing “Memories,” from Cats.
But the mini-murderer’s row of Sydney Fairbairn, Evan Gibley, Kaden Hinkle, Hannah Katz, Darrow Klein and Hannah Meg Weinraub totally stole the show with their version of “Cell Block Tango.”
The Killer Kids of Miscast, as they have come to be known, not only conceived and wrote the song themselves – with help and full approval of their parents – they rehearsed it for six weeks solid. They enlisted not only eminent local musical director Donna Debreceni for her help, but also Broadway veteran Candy Brown for her assistance with choreography. Brown, you should know, performed “Cell Block Tango” in the original Broadway cast. Really. She played June, whose jealous, raging, milkman husband ran into her knife …10 times.
These kids were not messing around.
“When they first came to me with their idea, I said, ‘That is just so wrong and over the top – and brilliant,” said Miscast director Robert Michael Sanders. The result went viral. A 7-minute video of song has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Facebook alone (see it below).
“The lightning in the bottle was these kids were playing characters we all know and love and think of as wholesome, and they brought out the dark side by actually doing what we have always wanted them to do,” Sanders said. “It was wrong to have kids singing that song in the first place. It was wrong that they had all committed murder. It was wrong that they used profanity. But they played it as true professionals in the theatre, and it was magical.”
Watch the performance for yourself:
The gang of six are among the busiest younger actors in the theatre community. Many of them are currently appearing in the Town Hall Arts Center’s A Christmas Story. Hinkle performed with the national touring company of that same show last winter at the Buell Theatre. Next, he will star in Vintage Theatre’s Billy Elliot.
What makes them all so exceptional, says actor Clint Heyn, who nominated the Killer Kids for their True West Award, is not only their talent, but their ongoing commitment to service. Katz, Klein and Hinkle each have given to the Denver Actors Fund through individual donations or by organizing collections through their shows or schools.
The Denver Actors Fund, which provides financial and neighborly assistance to artists in situational medical need, estimates that young people under 18 have contributed more than $16,000 to the organization since it was started in 2013, including ongoing efforts by schools such as Denver School of the Arts and Cherry Creek High School, and theatre companies like CenterStage in Louisville.
“The performance at Miscast was amazing, but the overall spirit of philanthropy from all the youth of our community to the Denver Actors Fund is what should be celebrated,” Heyn said.
So it got a tad bloody … and blue. Let’s call it a murder … but not a crime.
After performing in Miscast 2016 (shown with their mothers), teen performers Darrow Klein and Hannah Katz their own, combined donation of $800 to The Denver Actors Fund. Klein raised $700 as part of her bat mitzvah service project. Katz was making her third donation to the DAF so far.
ABOUT THE TRUE WEST AWARDS
The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org
THE 2016 TRUE WEST AWARDS:
Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
Day 3: After Orlando
Day 4: Michael Morgan
Day 5: Beth Beyer
Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
Day 7: donnie l. betts
Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
Day 10: Jason Sherwood
Day 11: Leslie O’Carroll and Steve Wilson
Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
Day 13: Jake Mendes
Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
Day 15: Patty Yaconis
Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
Day 21: Jeff Neuman
Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
Day 23: Matthew Campbell
Day 24: Sharon Kay White
Day 25: John Hauser
Day 26: Lon Winston
Day 27: Jason Ducat
Day 28: Sam Gregory
Day 29: Warren Sherrill
Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride