Blog By: Sydney Moody; Marketing Intern
CAROUSEL is a musical about a carnival worker Billy Bigelow and a millworker Julie Jordan who fall in love, but their marriage ends up taking a toll on their jobs, forcing Bigelow to commit crimes to support his family. With ups and downs, this unique musical is full of excitement, drama, and heart aches. In this new set of blogs, we will first interview our lead Joe Caskey, who is known as Billy Bigelow on the stage.
We typically start off every interview with the same question, but we like to get some history on each of our cast members. We asked Caskey how he got into theatre and what his process of getting into professional theatre was.
Caskey: “Theatre and music have been a part of my life for a long time now. I was first talked into auditioning for my middle school musical by my choir director and, to my surprise, I was cast as the lead. From there, musicals and plays became a regular part of my educational experience. When it was time for me to graduate high school, I decided to pursue a degree in musical theatre and vocal performance at Oklahoma City University. When I was in college, I had no doubts about my ambition to become a professional theatre performer and through OCU’s abundant resources, I began auditioning for shows outside of school. Eventually I landed my first role with Lyric in Titanic the Musical. Since my college graduation, I have moved to NYC with the hopes of a Broadway debut in the near future. I know that theatre, music, film, etc. will be a part of me for the rest of my life, and summers like this one only affirm my desire to stay in the performance industry.”
Each cast member has their own traditional way of getting ready before a show that is unique to them, so we asked Caskey how he gets ready before shows.
Caskey: “Prepping for any role that is on stage for 80% of the show is difficult but Billy Bigelow has been a unique challenge. With any lead role that I play, I begin with extensive research on the period and setting. Then, I move onto multiple readings of the script highlighting different aspects each time. I believe it is important to understand how my character talks about themself, how they talk about others, and how other characters talk about my character. After that, finding the physicalization of the character is very important to my process. A wonderful acting teacher of mine, Lance Marsh, taught the idea of playing the size and stature of the character on stage no matter what your own size is. So, even though I am 6’3″, I see Billy Bigelow as 6’5″. It might seem like a small difference but it accounts for how the character walks and carries themself. Beyond the work outside of the rehearsal room, collaboration with my fellow cast members is the biggest thing that will be read to the audience on stage. The relationships between the characters are so important, especially with CAROUSEL. My Julie, Julianne Reynolds, has been an incredible partner to work through such a tough show with. I have no doubt that the subtleties of character that we have been cultivating will radiate from this material.”
Everyone has a goal when it comes to anything they love, especially with something like theatre. Most people want to make it big, and become the next big star, in theatre, so we asked Caskey, “What do you think your next step in theatre is? What are your future goals or have you achieved them?”
Caskey: “I am a person who likes to keep very large goals in my life. Continuing to audition for shows and finding work consistently is always something to strive for, so in the short term, working shows consistently enough to not carry on another job is my ideal career situation. Looking forward, I see myself making my Broadway debut in the next five years. Obviously there are no guarantees in this, but it’s something I always have in the back of my head. I make sure that the work I do now is leading to that goal. It’s very important to me that I continue to work on my vocal ability, acting, and dance ability and not plateau in my head.”
There is usually one thing in theatre that keeps people in it, keeps them driven to be the best, and keeps everyone in a close community with each other. That one thing is their love for the arts. Everyone has something that they love about theatre, whether it be the community, the acting, the tech, or something else. We were curious as to why Caskey loves theatre.
Caskey: “Theatre is one of the longest-standing traditions in human history. It is an extension of ancestral storytelling, which preserved the history and ideology of tribes in the early days of man. Since then, storytelling has evolved to encompass complex emotions and situations that we can learn from and emote with. I believe that theatre is an important facet of humanity, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.”
We would like to end the blog series the same way we ended the MATILDA blogs, by asking for some advice from our amazing cast members. I hope you have your pen and paper ready to take note of the fantastic advice Caskey has to give.
Caskey: “I would tell anyone in this community the same thing as every other performance community. Expand your horizons. There are so many things in this world outside of theatre. It is very easy to get consumed by the audition process. You are going to hear ‘no’ hundreds of times, and if you let that affect your outlook on your life, it is going to be an impossible hill to climb. Experiencing everything this world has to offer will not only give you an escape from the sometimes-overbearing lifestyle of a theatre performer, but it will make you a better performer. The best performers know how to emulate reality and the best way to learn it by living.”
What a great way to start off our blogs! Don’t forget to visit our website and get your tickets for CAROUSEL to see our amazing actor Joe Caskey! CAROUSEL will be performed at the Civic Center from July 5-10.