Both of my parents grew up in North Miami Beach. My father and his twin brother fished the keys with their father almost every weekend when they were just boys. In the mid 1960’s my grandparents bought a couple of properties down here, one of which they sold to my father and mother in the early 80’s just after they were married. My parents then built a house on the land and moved to Islamorada to raise their family. It was really quite wonderful growing up as a Keys kid. My siblings and I all attended PKS and are graduates of Coral Shores High school.
My grandma Jean, my mother’s mom, was a film and television actress, based in Miami. I would often spend summers with her, tagging along on all of her castings. Her most notable credit was Miami Vice where she had reoccurring work. Family legend has it that she tried to give Don Johnson a few acting tips while on set. I would not have put it past her; she was a pistol that way. Another family legend has it that she was approached by Warner Bros in her 20s to be their next big film star. She looked a lot like Elizabeth Taylor; she was beautiful. But she wasn’t in a place to be able to do it at the time. My grandparents married in 1942, days before my grandfather was to leave for World War II. When he came home they started their family and had 7 children. It wasn’t until my grandmother was in her 50’s that she began to pursue her dream of acting, and she worked consistently until the day she died. She was a musician, an actress, a writer, and a feminist; she was ahead of her time, and a huge inspiration to me.
Upon graduating from high school I followed in my grandmother’s footsteps and went into art school as a theater major. Several years after completing the program, I moved back home to the keys and began working at the Islander Resort where I was the in-house event planner and sales manager. I booked all of the weddings and oversaw them from start to finish. It was such a fun and rewarding experience. I cried at every single wedding I did. A few years into the job, I received an offer from one of my former acting instructors to do a show up in Boca. She called me and said, “I have an opportunity for you.” And even though I loved doing the weddings, it wasn’t what I went to school for, and ultimately not where my heart fully was. The only way I could commit to the show in Boca was if I left my job in the keys altogether. It was a little scary at the time, but it was definitely the right decision for me.
Now I work full time as an actor throughout South Florida. I feel very fortunate to be staying so busy doing what I love the most. When I left the Islander and took the show in Boca, I was reunited with my old improv teacher. She had a one woman show that she was doing and I wanted to write one as well, so she began mentoring me through the process. One afternoon we got together for coffee and I was telling her some of my war stories from working weddings. She laughed and said to me “Casey, THIS is your show. Write these stories down. The characters are all there.”
I was not completely sold on the idea of writing my solo show about weddings, but the more and more I thought about it, I realized that I did have a lot of great stories to pull material from. At the time that I was working in the bridal business, I was single, approaching 30 and feeling the pressure and societal stigma of being unmarried. And although the job was very positive, it was magnifying the underlying sadness I was feeling about not being where I wanted to be in both my romantic and professional life. So, I thought what a wonderful way to address all of those feelings by turning them into a comedy that hopefully other people can relate to and enjoy. My one woman show is called “The Wedding Warrior” and I first premiered it in Scotland in 2014 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This summer I am embarking on a month and a half long tour to perform it at the 20th annual New York International Fringe Festival and the Chicago Fringe Festival.
Before I take off, I’m doing 3 shows here in Islamorada at the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center, located at the Islander property, on July 29th, 30th and 31st at 7:00 PM. It feels good to bring my show back to the place that inspired it, my home, The Florida Keys!
You can buy tickets by calling 305-879-7282 or go to: www.theweddingwarriorplay.
The overall take away from my show is to “just remain open”, “keep the faith” and “pursue your happiness”. The thing that makes me feel the most fulfilled about what I am doing now is the mere fact I am doing it. It took me awhile, but now I’m just barreling full speed ahead toward everything that makes me happy in this life. If ever I worry about being a late bloomer, I am reminded of my Grandma Jean and of my favorite line from my favorite movie, “Tootsie”. It’s the scene where Dustin Hoffman’s character is turning 40 and he says to Bill Murray, “I’m a character actor, age has no effect on me!” That’s what I like to think as well!