Casey Garritano is one of L.A.’s finest up and coming musical theater performers.  
Having enjoyed his ensemble work in two outstanding recent productions (Annie
Get Your Gun and On Your Toes), I was eager to see him take center stage as Will
Parker in Downey Civic Light Opera’s current production of Oklahoma!.  I did so
yesterday, describing Garritano in my review as the production’s “secret weapon.”  

Casey was kind enough to sit down and answer some of our questions about his

Hi Casey,
It was great meeting you yesterday! You’re wonderful in Oklahoma!, as my review
makes very clear. 🙂


You’re a local boy, having grown up in Redondo Beach. Were you the proverbial
California beach boy or did theater enter your life at an early age?

No one in my family was interested in musical theater; my mother did one musical
in high school, and sang in the church choir when she was pregnant with me. (She
claims that’s why I’m a singer, cause no one in my family can carry a tune.) At the
age of 7 I was bitten by a dog on the right side of my face, which left me with a
pretty big scar. So, fearing that I would become an introvert, as I got older and
realizing that kids would soon start making fun of my scar (which they did) she
enrolled me into a summer drama camp in Redondo Beach at age 11. I took to it
like a fish in water, but only kept it as a hobby, doing some shows here and there;
my first paying show was Oliver at CLOSBC in 1992. I did sports mostly through high
school, and I was horrible at it. I went to a small private junior college and only did
theater as a side fun thing, but I had a professor in college named John Lane who
was a UCLA grad and he told me about UCLA, so I auditioned for their Theater
department as a fluke. And got in.

Like me, you’re a Bruin! What is it about the UCLA Musical Theater program that
turns out so many fantastic performers, such as yourself, Peter Musante, Andrew
Pandaleon, Chris Fore, Brianne Moore, and many others?

I would say part of it is Ray Bolger, and his estate who donated a huge bundle of
cash to UCLA for the Musical Theater Department. With that money and their
already stellar rep as a great acting school, they were able to attract Musical
theater legends to teach like Karen Morrow and Nancy Dussault. And come on it’s
UCLA, what more do you need to say…. (Casey laughs.)

I see you played Tommy in The Music Man…in New York. How did a California boy
end up in a show on the east coast?

Haha, I auditioned for Straw Hat summer stock auditions in New York. I would
recommend that to any young performer. It’s a great chance to audition for a
bunch of theaters at once, and a chance to work all up and down the eastern
part of the US. Plus it’s an excuse to get out to New York. If you’re serious about
musical theater you need to be there.

You’ve been in a lot of classic musicals, from 42nd Street to Fiddler on the Roof to
the current Oklahoma!. What’s your favorite role so far, and why?

It’s funny you say that cause I hardly get considered for the newer shows cause my
look is very classic. Or so I’ve been told. I would say Will is becoming my favorite
role, and I really love how positive and simple he is. He’s not stuck up as Billy in 42nd
Street is or as innocent as Tommy in The Music Man…. It’s really fun to play a
character who only has one objective (all he wants is Ado Annie) cause you can
really give it your own life, and he’s really gullible, so he gets a lot of great laughs.

If you could cast yourself in any role in any musical, which one would it be?

I really would love to play Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, because he’s got two
great songs (“What do I Need with Love” and “I Turned the Corner”) and a lot of
layers to him that I feel many actors miss in playing him because they usually go
with a great singer who can’t act as well. I would love to give it a shot and see if I
could really bring out his character. I feel he should be a real song and dance man
cause Millie is a real song and dance girl, even though Jimmy doesn’t dance all
that much in the show.

Maybe when you get to play the role, they’ll add some extra dances for you!  
Speaking of dancing, Oklahoma!’s choreographer is Miriam Nelson, who
appeared in Cover Girl in 1944 with Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, the year after
Oklahoma opened on Broadway. What’s it been like for a young dancer like you
to work with a local legend?

It was a pleasure to work with her. She has an amazing story, and was on
Broadway at 17–such an amazing past. She is also very caring and allowed me to
really mold my own character dance wise and she gave me a lot of freedom. I’m
honored to have worked with her.

You may well be the first actor to play both Will Parker and Dream Curly. How
does that feel?

At first I hated it, cause I thought it would take away from my performance as Will,
and people would not really understand why Will would be Dream Curly. But with
hair dye and the old classic Agnes de Mile switcherroo, most of the audience
doesn’t know it’s me, and that’s fine with me. I also got to do a lot of my own
choreography in the ballet, which was a gift from Ms. Nelson to allow me that
freedom. She really trusted me a great deal. My real honor is dancing with
Courtney Burfiend who is beautiful, amazing, and one of the kindest people you’ll
ever meet, and coincidently my girlfriend. We met doing this show and just started

You’ve taught, directed, and choreographed for the Orange County High School
of the Arts. Were you an Arts High School kid? What’s it like to work with so many
talented teenagers when you were a talented teen yourself not so long ago?

I was not an arts kid. I was a wannabe football player who never grew any
muscles. As far as teaching, I love it, but it takes away from me as a performer
cause I really get involved in my students and OCHSA and don’t focus on my tools.
But it’s nice to know that I have something to go back to after my dancing legs
fall apart.

You’re doing the Pajama Game next month for Musical Theatre West? Excited
about that?

Yes, very. I love working with Jon Vaughan, and I’ve always wanted to work with
Steve Glaudini. MTW is an wonderful place to work. It’s my third show there and
they treat you like a star no mater what part you are.

Where would you like to see yourself five years from now?

Employed. Just like everybody else… but I would really love to move to New York
as soon as I can.

Thanks, Casey, for sitting down and chatting with us. We wish you all the best
and look forward to being there for opening night of The Pajama Game.

My pleasure.

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