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BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects

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La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts & McCoy Rigby Entertainment will west coast premiere Sandy Rustin’s adaptation of Jonathan Lynn’s screenplay CLUE Sept. 24th

BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects

La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby Entertainment will west coast premiere playwright Sandy Rustin's adaptation of Jonathan Lynn's screenplay CLUE September 24, 2021. Prolific director Casey Hushion steers a cast of Jeff Skowron, Heather Ayers, Ted Barton, Mary Birdsong, Sarah Hollis, John Shartzer, Cassie Simone, Harrison White, Rachel McLaughlan, Michael Cavinder, and James Tolbert.

Had the opportunity to learn some behind-the-scenes of CLUE and other productions Casey has worked on.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Casey!

You've directed CLUE before at Cleveland Playhouse. Do you have to start over from scratch in prepping with a completely different cast and crew? Or can you keep some of your notes from Cleveland Playhouse?

Since CLUE is both a farce and a murder mystery, there is a road map that was created at Cleveland Playhouse which serves as a valuable foundational layer for future productions. Beyond that, each new production will take on a life of its own - it is exciting to bring a whole new cast into the world and to discover what they will bring to the piece. It is important to me that the La Mirada production feels fresh and original and not like a remounting a pre-existing show. I want the cast and production staff to feel ownership over this production as something truly original and specific to them and to this moment. To that end, the playwright Sandy Rustin is involved in the process, as this is truly the next step of development for the piece.

What cosmic forces first brought you and La Mirada Theatre together for this production of CLUE?

I believe Tom McCoy came to see the production of CLUE at Cleveland Playhouse and brought us together. Tom and I had been circling each other on various projects for years and I was eager to finally collaborate with Tom and McCoy Rigby Entertainment. It has been a great process here at La Mirada. Tom and the whole staff have created a generous and supportive environment, especially for people coming back to work after a long hiatus... everyone has been so welcoming, and they have made this process a true pleasure.

BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects Had you seen any other renditions of CLUE before?

I had not seen any other stage productions of CLUE, but the film was a huge favorite in my household growing up.

Have you worked with any of the CLUE cast or creatives before?

The CLUE cast for this production is entirely new to me. They are a remarkably unique and talented group of actors, very hard working and full of heart and humor. Rehearsing with them has been delightful- the CLUE cast has to be made up of very vivid characters, each completely distinct from one and another yet they also have to play as a unit. It is wonderful to watch how quickly this group was able to come together to create that comedic ensemble.

As far as the creative team, I had worked with Jen Caprio (costumes) and Lee Savage (set) before on the ill-fated production of NERDS. Every department has to be in one game (no pun intended) with this play and Lee and Jen had the right wit and sensibilities for the world of CLUE. Sandy Rustin, the playwright, and I were close personal friends but had never worked together before this project. CLUE was a wonderful and close collaboration that has since led to many other shows together. Some of my favorite memories of developing the show were late nights spent with Sandy in a hotel room in Cleveland, and with a little bit of bourbon, working out all the kinks of the first production.

When you direct a touring production, do you have to accompany the company to each city? Or do you delegate to your assistant director?

My experience with touring productions has mostly been as a Resident Director, which involves setting the production with the director and then flying to various cities as needed to maintain the show, put new actors in and check in on any issues that arise.

Does the frequency of rehearsals vastly differ for a touring company vs a Broadway production vs a regional show?

Every process is so different. In my experience, the Broadway rehearsal process allows for the longest rehearsal, tech and preview time periods. Regionally, I have teched giant shows in 20 hours, so it all depends on the tools and time you have to work with.

BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects The rehearsal schedule for a staged concert must be even more limited?

Yes, rehearsing a stage concert tends to happen in a more limited time. There are less elements to wrangle so that can simplify the process.

When did you start rehearsals for this La Mirada production?

We began rehearsals for the La Mirada production on Sunday, September 5th.

Comedies and musicals fill your directing resume. Do you prefer directing one over the other?

As far as which genre I prefer, it is impossible to choose between comedies and musicals! I love them both too much! I did my first musical at age five and have loved them ever since, but there is nothing quite as rewarding as sitting in the back of a dark theatre and listening to an audience roar with laughter.

Have you ever had to juggle beginning your pre-production work on a new show while opening your current show?

It is always a juggle to coordinate pre-production on other shows while working on the current one. You do your best to fit it all in where you can. It requires a lot of list-making and scheduling and organizing... there are Zoom meetings for other shows on lunch breaks for the current ones - and I am finding that the beauty of being on West Coast time is that you can put in a round of work on the East Coast before starting the rehearsal day here! In this specific post-pandemic moment, with all shows coming back to life at essentially the same time, that juggle can be more challenging. I am always factoring in time spent with my husband and kids and we are a very active family, so that certainly adds to the juggling act. I try to focus on being grateful for all that I have and on simply doing my best every day and letting go where I can.

BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects Will the upcoming production of CLUE at Paper Mill Playhouse be your third production of CLUE that you directed?

As we were developing the show, we did a table read and a 29-hour reading in New York City. As far as full productions go, the upcoming Paper Mill production will be the third production of CLUE that I have directed. That production will bring back many of the cast members that developed the show at Cleveland Playhouse. It will be awesome to reunite with them after these two years and all that has happened since - to come back together and laugh together will be such a joy.

If I name a show you've directed, will you give a fun fact for each?

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE: My first Broadway show and one of the most special companies and shows that I have ever been a part of.

My son Lincoln was born during this show, and I have a great picture of him as a tiny baby, sitting in Man in Chair's chair.

This was also the first Broadway show that I worked with Casey Nicholaw on, so it was the beginning of an incredible friendship and work relationship.

GOOD VIBRATIONS: I was an SDC Observer on this show and learned a lot by being a fly on the wall. Lots of great future relationships came out of this process - Karen Moore (stage manager), Jason Lyons (lighting designer). 15 years later, I got to work on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with Tituss Burgess, who was in the original cast.

CALL ME MADAM: CALL ME MADAM was inspired by the real-life figure of Perle Mesta, a Washington socialite who served as the Ambassador to Luxembourg in a time when the world of politics was mostly comprised of men.

ELF: My husband Marc Kessler made his Broadway debut in this show. And you can hear my feet tap dancing on the cast album!

THE PROM: During the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, THE PROM number closed with the female leads Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla sharing a kiss on live television, the first same-sex kiss ever shown in the parade's history.

BWW Interview: Director Casey Hushion Giving A CLUE Into Her Multitude of Projects That cast was so special, and that building was always full of laughter and love.

ALADDIN: The magic carpet is truly the most spectacular effect, and I cannot share how it works, but my jaw dropped the first time I experienced it.

Another fun fact, there are 70 quick changes in one production number in ALADDIN. And I have seen the number "Friend Like Me" stop the show and get a standing ovation in the middle of Act One multiple times, which is always so exciting to experience.

MEAN GIRLS: So many incredible experiences came out of MEAN GIRLS - one of them being the opportunity to be in a Saturday Night Live sketch with Tina Fey! That was one of the craziest and coolest things that I would never have imagined would happen in my life.

MYSTIC PIZZA - A NEW MUSICAL: MYSTIC PIZZA was created entirely within the pandemic and the first day of rehearsal was the first time the full creative team was in a room together and not on Zoom!

What's in the near future for Casey Hushion?

Next up, I will be working on the National Tours of THE PROM and MEAN GIRLS. I will be directing A JOLLY HOLIDAY - a new show that will be a partnership with Paper Mill Playhouse and Disney on Broadway. Following that, CLUE at Paper Mill and more developmental productions of the new musical MYSTIC PIZZA are on the horizon. I also look forward to being back home and spending time with my husband and my three kids- Lincoln, Violet and Jane.

Thank you again, Casey! I look forward to learning the CLUEs on your next project.

Thank YOU!

For tickets for the live performances of CLUE through October 17, 2021; log onto www.lamiradatheatre.com


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