‘Music’ is still in him
Q. How has your understanding of (“The Sound of Music’’) changed since the first time you were in it?
A. I think before, when I did it, I actually didn’t read the whole script. I just read my scenes. I thought, oh, I’m gonna play Rolf, I get to sing the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.’’ I don’t recall ever seeing anyone else’s scenes or hearing anyone else’s songs, other than when I was backstage. Obviously, this time, after a career of 32 years, I’ve become a person who’s a real detective within a script, and I go through it vigorously and I’m well aware of everybody else’s role, not just mine.
Q. What is it like to act in a stage production that’s best known as a major motion picture? Did you watch the film at all to prepare for either of the times you were in the musical?
A. I know I’ve seen the movie. Not for a while, but I think I saw it with my kids when they were little. But I didn’t want to see Christopher Plummer [in the film], although I know that he’s brilliant in it. . . . The trap with that is that you start to imitate and you start to mimic and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to have my fresh take on it - by reading it for the first time, taking in the other characters, taking in the lyrics from the other characters’ songs, as well as mine, and really understanding what it is. You realize just how brilliant Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers are. Hammerstein’s lyrics are just, they’re perfect. . . . It’s an astounding piece, in that it’s based on truth. I mean, it’s about all of the wonderful things that endure in life, and that’s love and family and standing up for your principles.
Q. What’s it like for you to work with child actors?
A. I’m in the process of opening up my own performing arts camp and school with my wife, who’s a dancer. I have two sons and I’m a coach of their Little League teams and their basketball teams. . . . Working with kids is like a dream for me. The idea of getting to actually merge teaching, performing, and coaching children is really what I want to do with my life now. These kids are fantastic. They’re really a great group. I call them the team. . . . They’re great, you know, I talk to them every day as we get closer and closer to the first performance. It’s just about bonding and really committing to us being a family and me being their dad and them being my children.
Q. Which character in “The Sound of Music’’ do you relate to most?
A. Probably Maria, in the sense that Georg von Trapp, the Captain, is actually very different than I am as a person. I tend to be much more outspoken, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m quite emotional; I’m not very reserved, as is Maria. You know, she’s much more like me, she says whatever’s on her mind. So, I understand that really, really well as a person. But, I have to say, as an actor, getting to play the Captain is a wonderful opportunity for me, because it gives me a chance to explore a side of me that is a little foreign.
Q. What’s next for you, after this show wraps up?
A. [My mother and I] are getting together to do something right after “The Sound of Music.’’ We’re doing a benefit together out in San Francisco. I have a few other things in development right now. I’ve got a one-man show that I do, which is about growing up in a family where every single person around the dinner table is in show business [his father is the late actor Jack Cassidy and his half-brother is David Cassidy, former teen idol and star of “The Partridge Family’’]. It’s called “Just Act Normal.’’ I’m trying to keep myself busy, but I am a full-time dad, too, and a full-time husband.
Interview has been condensed and edited. Anna Marden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.