Some Kinda Time! Benj Pasek and Justin Paul Revisit Dogfight and A Christmas Story at Joe's Pub

By Michael Gioia
May 16, 2013

The score of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's Lucille Lortel Award-winning musical Dogfight hit the Internet April 30; that same day the duo was nominated for a Tony Award for the Best Original Score of Broadway's A Christmas Story, the Musical. They celebrated May 15 at Joe's Pub.



"It's the craziest thing that the album came out on the same day as the Tony [nominations]," Pasek told Playbill.com at the Tony Awards press junket May 1, the day after the Dogfight album dropped on iTunes. "It feels like Christmas, if you will."

Paul added, "I feel like people are going to think we're pulling some sort of strings this year because they're [thinking], 'You have Dogfight and Christmas Story [make their New York debuts], and now the Tony nominations and the album come out at the same time!' This is all just happening by coincidence, but it's amazing."

Amazing might describe Pasek and Paul's May 15 evening at Joe's Pub, which celebrated the release of Dogfight and the recent success of Broadway's A Christmas Story. When the newly nominated songwriting duo took the stage at 9:30 PM in downtown Manhattan, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Derek Klena
photo by Monica Simoes

Cast members from the Second Stage Theatre summer 2012 production, including Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena, who played the unlikely love interests Rose Fenny and Eddie Birdlace — and who will reunite May 28 as Wicked's newest Elphaba and Fiyero, respectively, on Broadway — joined Pasek and Paul to sing through the entirety of Dogfight, providing commentary and brief plot synopses in between songs.

"Some Kinda Time" and "Hey, Good-Lookin'," featuring the group of Vietnam-bound soldiers — including original stars Nick Blaemire and Josh Segarra as well as Pasek on the mic and Paul on the piano — in search of the ugliest date to bring to the "Dogfight" on their final night before deployment, brought down the house early in the evening. Klena's smooth "Come to a Party" and Mendez's heartfelt "Nothing Short of Wonderful" followed, and Dogfight fans were transported to the 1963 diner where badass marine Eddie Birdlace first encounters the clumsy, yet charming Rose Fenny.

Mario Cantone
Photo by Monica Simoes
When it was time to showcase the musical's title song, performed in the Off-Broadway production by another 2013 Tony Award nominee, Annaleigh Ashford — who was nominated for her comic turn in Broadway's Kinky Boots and was spending her evening at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where that Tony-nominated Best Musical plays — Pasek and Paul brought out their first special guest of the evening. Ashford played Marcy, a prostitute, in Dogfight, and Pasek said that they had to find the next best "whore" to replace her for the concert. They turned to Laugh Whore star Mario Cantone.

"Thanks for getting me out of the house," said Cantone, who joked that he does not do New York City concerts for free and that Dogfight, his favorite musical of the season, was his only exception. ("They didn't nominate Elf!" joked Cantone.)

"That was what was so encouraging about the [Christmas Story Tony] nomination for Best Musical," Pasek told Playbill.com. "We think that one of the reasons that [A Christmas Story] worked so well is that it really is a bigger show than just about Christmas and Christmastime. It's about a family and how a family comes together."

Between the first-act and second-act numbers at the Dogfight concert, Pasek and Paul offered tunes from their other projects, including the title song from A Christmas Story, performed by the duo in the style of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson; "Rewrite This Story," a song seen on NBC's "Smash" that was performed at the concert by Ghost's Caissie Levy; and "Ready to Be Loved," from Pasek and Paul's popular song cycle Edges that was performed by sassy beltress Raena White.

During the second half of the concert were fan favorite songs from Dogfight, including "First Date/Last Night," performed by Mendez and Klena; "Before It's Over," a standout from the musical sung by Mendez; and "Come Back," the show's final ballad that was belted out by Klena.

As the 9:30 PM concert crowd exited Joe's Pub and flooded the lobby of the Public Theater, Pasek and Paul and the cast of Dogfight greeted their fans and prepped for the second 11:30 PM concert, which had an audience that included Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture), Adam Kantor (The Last Five Years), Alex Wyse (Lysistrata Jones), Adam Chanler-Berat and more. "Glee" star Darren Criss made a special guest appearance.

For Pasek and Paul, it was "Nothing Short of Wonderful."

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

Click here for pictures from the evening.