“Miscast” Alex Newell Belts Empowering Anthem “This Is Me”

The "Once on This Island" goddess takes on the "Greatest Showman" showstopper.

This is him!

Glee star and recording artist Alex Newell brought down the house earlier this week at the annual Miscast gala in New York.

A benefit for MCC Theater, the Miscast revue gives Broadway’s hottest stars the opportunity to perform songs attached to roles they could never play. The freedom to swap genders usually allows for some very queer musical moments.

Despite battling bronchitis, Newell slayed “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. He also performed “Being Good Isn’t Good Enough,” originally sung by Leslie Uggams in the Broadway musical Hallelujah Baby.

The Greatest Showman/20th Century Fox

Penned by gay-straight songwriting team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “This Is Me” won a Golden Globe and snagged an Academy Award nomination. Greatest Showman star Keala Settle, who sings the song in the movie musical, also performed it at the Oscars ceremony.

Newell is currently making his Broadway debut in the musical Once on This Island as Asaka, Mother of the Earth, one of four deities ruling a storm-threatened island in the Caribbean.

Out director Michael Arden recently told NewNowNext about his decision to disregard gender constraints when casting his gods and goddesses, specifically Newell as Asaka.

“I thought, well, who am I to define gods by their genitalia?” he said. “And so many gay men do take on a motherly role, taking care of others, so why shouldn’t we depict that in an honest way?”

“We have a traditionally female goddess played without remark by a gay man, and our negligence to comment on it hopefully speaks volumes,” Arden continued. “It’s important that LGBT people see themselves portrayed in non-traumatic ways. Asaka’s not being persecuted or dying—he’s a role model, a god, just living his truth.”

Held at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, this year’s Miscast event doubled as a special tribute to Roseanne and Three Tall Women star Laurie Metcalf.

Additional highlights included gender-flipped performances by Robbie Fairchild, Jeremy Jordan, Sara Bareilles, Auli’i Cravalho’s, Victoria Clark, Gavin Lee, Ethan Slater, Jordan Fisher, Jayne Houdyshell, Caissie Levy, and Wesley Taylor.

Watch Newell sing “This Is Me” below and see more Miscast 2018 clips at mcctheater.org.
 

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.
@brandonvoss