This is the 3rd part of a series of interviews with the cast of Olney Theatre Center’s Avenue Q. In Part 3: Meet Evan Casey.
Joel: Where have local theatregoers seen you perform this year?
Evan: I was in two productions at The Kennedy Center Family Theatre: first as Elephant Gerald in Elephant and Piggie’s We Are In A Play!, and then as Heracles and a few others in Orphie and The Book of Heroes.
Who do you play in Avenue Q and how do you relate to your character?
I play Brian, and I would like to think that I connect with his affability and genuine nature. I think there is a reason why he is the first to welcome Princeton to Avenue Q, and why he is the first to break Princeton from his funk at the top of Act Two. He is a good listener with a good heart, and people connect with him easily.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced learning your role, score, and puppetry?
Honestly the biggest challenge for me is probably not looking at the humans who are holding the puppets onstage. In Sesame Street or The Muppets, the audience only sees the puppet, the person controlling it is not visible and not in the line of vision of the actor. But when you’re working with another actor who is clearly visible onstage, it can be a challenge to keep your eye focused on the puppet, because the actor instincts in your body are telling you to look at the person you are conversing with.
What are your solos in the show and what do we learn about your characters when you sing them?
Well I guess my big solo is “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today”, and if the title alone doesn’t teach you something about my character, then I can’t really help you.
What do you admire about your castmates’ performances and what has surprised you during rehearsals?
I love everyone’s work in this show, but the work of those handling puppets is particularly exemplary. Rachel, Sam, and Stephen in particular, handle the bulk of the puppeting duties and really work hard in this show. They earn every bit of applause and cheering they receive. I am also impressed with the work being done by Tracey, David, and Awa, who are constantly handling puppets for other people’s voices, or acting as “the other half” of Nicky or Trekkie (as David almost always does). That is extremely challenging work which I hope is fully appreciated by the audiences.
What song that you don’t sing is your favorite, and why?
There are way too many to choose from but “Schadenfreude” always holds a special place in my heart, because whether we like to admit it or not, we do take pleasure in knowing that other people have it worse than we do.
What have Bobby Smith, Chris Youstra, and Jason Loewith brought to this production that make Olney’s Avenue Q so special?
It goes without saying that they are three immensely talented individuals, and they brought great creative insights and guidance to the process. But just as important, they are three of the most fun-loving, easygoing guys you are going to find in this business. It is such a treat entering a rehearsal room that you know will be relaxed and friendly, and these lovely gentlemen set that tone from Day One.
What has been the most fun so far working on this show, and what have you learned about yourself as an actor while working on Avenue Q?
This is probably the closest I will ever get to being a guest star on Sesame Street, so I am fully enjoying the experience of acting with puppets, particularly ones that swear, have sex, and talk about racism and porn. It doesn’t get much better than that.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Avenue Q?
I hope they take their underwear. I certainly have no use for it because Brian doesn’t wear any.
Avenue Q plays through July 20, 2014 at Olney Theatre Center-2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 924-3400, or purchase them online.
Finding Their Purpose: Meet the Cast of Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Avenue Q’: Part 1: Rachel Zampelli.
Finding Their Purpose: Meet the Cast of Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Avenue Q’: Part 2: Stephen Gregory Smith.
Finding Their Purpose: Meet the Cast of Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Avenue Q’: Part 3: Evan Casey.