03/28/2012 02:30 pm ET Updated May 28, 2012

Casting A Moon for the Misbegotten at Pearl Theatre and Miscasting to Benefit the MCC Theater

In Eugene O'Neill's 1943 play, A Moon for the Misbegotten, faithfully revived at The Pearl Theatre, the mores of the time seem antiquated but the performances by Kim Martin-Cotten as farm woman Josie Hogan, and Andrew May as her well educated yet drunken landlord Jim Tyrone, Jr. are pitch perfect. She, ungainly and with a rough tongue, he finely groomed, his language elegant if slurred from drink, make for as unlikely a pair as befits drama or life. In a ruse concocted by her father Phil Hogan (the Pearl's ribald Dan Daily) to catch them in bed so that he will be forced to marry her -- a plot point that seems refreshingly silly in today's world, it is soon revealed just which of these characters is the most to be admired, and what slim pickin's rural life has for her. The men, especially the tortured Tyrone, have the mobility to leave the farm, as Josie's brother, Mike (the Pearl's fine Sean McNall) does early on. Under J. R. Sullivan's expert direction, the play offers a beautifully wrought glimpse of O'Neill's characters' inner worlds.

On Monday night the Hammerstein Ballroom, MCC Theater's annual Miscast gala was the scene of the year's funniest revue. Hosted by Lewis Black, stars of stage performed roles they would never, ever play. Said Jonathan Groff, first up in a group that included Smash's Megan Hilty and Book of Mormon's Nikki James, a perk of his having acted in MCC's The Submission was an invitation to be cast, eh, miscast for this stellar event to benefit MCC Theater. The show stealers were Constantine Maroulis as Effie from Dreamgirls and Jan Maxwell doing both Jekyll and Hyde, swinging her profile around to kill and be killed. Nicole Parker impersonates Ellen Degeneres, Diane Keaton, Celine Dion, Reba McIntire, and Kim Kardashian in a funk ("no one knows how hard it is to maintain inexplicable fame") performing Eponine from Les Mis. You don't think it can get better. And then it does: Jonathan Groff, confessing to his obsession with Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney, sings and dances following her arrangements complete with tap backup for Anything Goes. Wow!

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