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

By Michael Gioia
16 May 2013

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 "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."

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

Click here for pictures from the evening.