On Sunday night, Josh Radnor hosted a premiere after-party for his sophomore Sundance effort, Liberal Arts, which earned a rare but coveted standing ovation after the screening. The party, which was held at a spacious red-brick yoga studio just off Main Street, featured another rare but coveted perk for Sundance events: a buffet. Around the spread, cast members of the May-December romantic comedy/drama mingled with festival revelers and industry insiders, enjoying the spacious venue and the fact that, unlike at the other events on Main Street, the music was being played at an appropriate volume level.
Midway through the party, Radnor jumped onstage to stop the D.J.’s, graciously thank his guests, and present them with a special surprise. No, not another buffet, but a spontaneous performance by his friend and Grammy Award–winning pop artist Jason Mraz, who, Radnor noted, happened to be the unexpected favorite musical act of his Liberal Arts co-star Richard Jenkins. The 64-year-old Oscar nominee, who had been tipped off to the surprise concert, had already positioned himself (and his slightly less enthused-looking wife) just offstage.
While Mraz performed about six songs, including covers of “Fly Me to the Moon,” the Mr. Rogers chart-topper “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and his hit, “I’m Yours,” Jenkins’s face was so full of delight that fellow audience members were stealing camera photos of his breathless reaction instead of Mraz’s breathy performance.
“I couldn’t even look at him,” Mraz told us shortly after jumping offstage. “He and I had a long conversation beforehand, and I knew that if I looked over, it would be like looking at your girlfriend while you play.”
Jenkins was still glowing when your blogger made her way to him to discuss the impromptu performance.
“I just love him,” Jenkins exclaimed. “He’s like a balladeer. A troubadour. A soulful singer. I think he’s a poet. I have everything he’s ever [recorded] right here [pointing to his iPhone]. Sundance is great, but this was just amazing.”
Asked if he had made any requests, Jenkins shook his head and said no.
“Oh, he had a lot of requests,” Mraz confided minutes after. “He goes for the really emotional songs. The deep, personal songs. ‘Beautiful Mess’ was for him.”
Shortly after, your blogger made a beeline for Radnor, who said that he had coordinated the performance before knowing of his co-star’s devotion.
“Jason and I share a best friend, so that’s how I know him,” Radnor told us. “I knew he was going to be in town and that he wanted to come see [Liberal Arts], and then I just asked him if he would play a few songs for the party. He said he could… . I told some people about the surprise earlier, and Richard said, ‘You don’t understand. I’m the biggest Jason Mraz fan.’ Who knew?”