BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Evan Casey
Today's subject Evan Casey is currently living his theatre life onstage at Signature Theatre, his DC theatrical home base in An Act of God. The production runs through November 26.
Since 2001, Evan has been delighting audiences with his wide range of both comedic and dramatic characterizations all around our local region. Select credits include Sunday in the Park with George, Really Really, The Flick, Midwestern Gothic, The Boy Detective Falls, The Hollow, Company, and many other productions at Signature Theatre; Avenue Q, Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and Camelot at Olney Theatre Center; Little Shop of Horrors and Meet John Doe at Ford's Theatre; Floyd Collins at 1st Stage, Doctor Dolittle and Perseus Bayou at Imagination Stage; and Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) and Elephants and Piggies We Are in a Play at Kennedy Center.
Besides his theatrical credits, Evan is a member of the political satire group that puts the mock in democracy,The Capitol Steps.
He is married to actress/ singer Tracy Lynn Olivera. The couple has a son named Oscar Linus and a Saint Bernard named Beesley.
Evan Casey is one of those performers that never disappoints when he is onstage. It doesn't matter if he is playing a goofy skid row type, a bitter movie theatre employee or a guy stuck underground, his performances are always memorable for all the right reasons.
For a truly unique and religious theatrical experience, check out An Act of God at Signature Theatre. Joining Evan in the show are Tom Story and Jamie Smithson so you have three terrific performers and the killer direction of Eleanor Holdridge to make your evening or matinee a great experience.
Had you been interested in working in another profession before becoming a performer, or did you know that acting was going to be your life's work from the beginning?
I was-and still remain-interested in professional baseball as a profession. I'm only in my mid-30s, I saw the Orioles pitching this year, you can't tell me they can't use another lefty reliever. But to your question...I didn't really "get into" acting until I was a sophomore in high school, so I cannot say I knew it would be my life's work "from the beginning." But I will say that it wasn't until I started taking those acting classes and performing on stage that the idea of "what you want to do with your life" really began to crystallize for me. Before sophomore year it was...Lawyer? Archaeologist? Sommelier? After sophomore year it was Actor, full stop.
What do you remember the most about your first time stepping on stage as a professional actor? What was the show?
My first professional show was Bye Bye Birdie at Olney Theatre Center in the early spring of 2001, but perhaps more memorable than stepping on stage was receiving the phone call that I had been cast. I was 18 at the time, still a freshman at Catholic University and green in my theatre education, so receiving notice that I had been cast in a professional show affirmed my decision to pursue acting as a career choice. Or to put it more succinctly, it gave me a feeling of, "Hey, maybe I can actually do this!"
You are currently performing at Signature Theatre in An Act of God. Can you please tell us a little something about the show and also something about your character?
The show is basically God's 75-minute comedic riff on the misinterpretation of his Ten Commandments, and subsequent reinterpretation of his "new" Ten Commandments. After several thousand years, it seems that mankind has misconstrued much of what God originally intended, so he is here to elucidate the real meaning behind the Word of the Lord.
I play Michael, God's greatest advocate for humanity. Much of my show involves asking the tough questions of God on behalf the audience, to help them gain a greater understanding of life's bigger mysteries. This in turn, leads to some questions God might not entirely be prepared to answer.
Is there an underlying theme playwright David Javerbaum tries to address in An Act of God? If so, what do you think it is?
You mean besides "funny"? I mean one can certainly see the political leanings of a show like this, particularly given that it was written by a Daily Show writer, but I don't think Javerbaum is trying to make an overt political or religious statement. I don't think the show would be as successful as it is if he were. But I do think a "theme"-if there is one-is that all of this God business should not be taken as seriously as it is by so many. Believe what you want to believe, how you want to believe it, but don't believe so fervently and blindly that it keeps you from chuckling and shaking your head at the craziness of this world every now and again. We should all ask some of those big "Michael" questions, but just know that the answers aren't always black and white, nor are they always what we want to hear.
You've been a member of the political satire group The Capitol Steps for many years. With the current political climate I imagine their show changes daily or with #45 hourly. Are there daily rehearsals for new material or does it go in on the day of a show?
Most rehearsal for the Capitol Steps will occur on our own, so you need to be a pretty quick and flexible study. If something big hits in the news, we can usually expect an email with a new song within a few days, accompanied by a video or audio clip of the song the parody is set to, so that we can get the melody and rhythm down. Then you work on it on your own. We usually give it a trial run before our public shows at the Reagan Building downtown on Friday or Saturday night. We show up early to run through the material with the accompanist-really the most talented members of our troupe-who have already learned the song by ear and pretty much adapt to whatever key best fits our voice.
Along those same lines of working with The Capitol Steps, do you have a particular politician/political figure that is your favorite to portray?
I guess I would have to say Bernie Sanders. First, my politics align closely with his, so I am grateful he is still a prominent figure in our political discourse that he would be worthy of our mockery. It means his voice still carries weight. Second, his whole manner and character are fertile ground for any comedian. Third, and perhaps most importantly, while I am neither old nor Jewish, I do feel like I am an old Jewish man at heart.
You are married to actress/singer Tracy Lynn Olivera. Does the fact that you are both in the same profession make it easier at the end of the night to decompress? Can you bounce things off of one another or do you try to keep work and personal stuff separate?
Tracy is the ultimate decompression gift. Yes, partly because we are in the same unique profession, so the ins and outs of the business are things she innately understands and appreciates; but mostly because we view the world in the same way, with equally healthy doses of skepticism and sarcasm.
You've worked in many area theatres but it seems to me that Signature Theatre is your home base. Is that a fair assumption, and what are a few things that you enjoy the most about working there?
I think that is a pretty fair assumption...assuming Signature assumes the same thing. But yes, I have probably worked at Signature more than any other area theatre during my time in DC. During that time, I would say there are two things I enjoy most about working there.
1) The variety of work I have had the opportunity to be a part of over the years: Sondheim, new plays, Off-Broadway hits, new musicals (in rep!), old musicals re-worked, and the list goes on. Rarely does one theatre offer an actor such a diverse array of theatrical gifts. The scope and volume of new and different work they do is a blessing to the theatre community.
2) That word "community." Eric Schaeffer has done a remarkable job of fostering a community in Shirlington over the years. Signature always feels like a home, even for those who are working there for the first time. Some of my closest and best friends have come from working on Signature's stages, and that's due in no small part to the familial atmosphere that exists there from the top down. Working there almost always feels like a reunion.
What does the rest of the 17/18 season hold in store for you after An Act of God closes?
I will go back into the Capitol Steps for several months, before Tracy and I do On the Town together at Olney Theatre Center this summer. Oh...and raising a kid.
Special thanks to Signature Theatre's Deputy Director of Creative Content and Publicity for his assistance in coordinating this interview.
Additional photos provided by Press Secretary General for the Capitol Steps Bill Hurd and Olney Theatre Center's Marketing and Development Apprentice Emily Vokal.
Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon