Fair Play Creates Unexpected Theatre with “Miscast: A Gender-Bent Cabaret”

Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Cruz

While most students were likely cramming on Sunday night before the start of finals week, an eclectic mix of students from student organization Fair Play were lending their theatrical talents to Miscast: A Gender-Bent Cabaret in Price Center Theater.

The 45-minute show was not your typical musical. Composed of an 11-person cast and 7 songs from different musicals, the “gender-bent” concept became evident from the show’s inception, when third-year transfer student Isaac Cortes stepped on stage dressed in a pencil skirt, fishnet leggings, and high heels. Belting “Someone Gets Hurt” from the new Broadway musical Mean Girls with gusto, Cortes immediately had the crowd going wild.

The rest of the show followed the same theme. Performers whose gender identities did not align with those of their portrayed characters sang and danced infectiously. The approach aimed to demonstrate Fair Play’s mission of building an inclusive community of student-artists creating theater in unexpected ways.

Gender-bent performance can trace its history to the countercultural movements of the 60s and 70s, and often arises out of a desire to challenge or rethink gender roles or norms.

“Doing gender-bent musical theater, or anything really, allows performers the opportunity to do something they’d never get the opportunity to do otherwise,” explained Fair Play founder Teagan Rutkowski, a third-year Theater and Music double major. “So much of theater has a very specific idea on what characters need to look like and be that we never get to step out of that.”

Singing “Blue” from Heathers, first years Sophia Hogue and Augusta Norman wore stereotypical high school jock outfits with letterman jackets and backwards baseball caps. The controversial number, which highlights the culture of male entitlement behind date rape, featured Hogue and Norman singing about their “blue balls” and “dry humping” Cortes, who played a disgusted woman. During their performance, the two even jumped into the crowd and gave lap dances to unsuspecting audience members.

In the closing number, five men in orange jumpsuits and fishnet stockings performed the iconic “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago. As the men recreated the sexualized movements (including the spread eagle) performed by the women in the original musical, the already wild audience became even rowdier.

When the final bow came, the internal support between members of the cast was palpable. Cortes said, “I honestly probably would not have been able to get on stage with what I was wearing had I not been surrounded by the kind people that I was so fortunate to have met thanks to Fair Play.”

Fair Play’s next performance will be a production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Auditions for that and their original spring musical will be held on January 11. For more information about Fair Play, visit fairplayucsd.org.

Emily Beihold is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor of The Triton.