Founder and Artistic Director of The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective in NYC, Steven McCasland is a director, writer, performer, and theatre company on the rise! At The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective, Steven has directed "Alice Au Pays Des Merveilles," "Twelfth Night," "Hamlet," and "Crossing Brooklyn." He also directed the world premiere of his two one-act -plays "BLACK" [Billy Learns About Captain Kirk] and "BLUE."
Steven's theatrical foundings started back in 2006, when while at Pace University, Steven founded Group Therapy Productions, the first student-run production company on campus. He produced and directed 10 productions during his four years at Pace including an outdoor production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
As a playwright, Steven has adapted Jack Wiler's anthologies into a solo performance about Wiler's struggle with HIV. That play, "Fun Being Me," was workshopped with Jack before his passing in 2009. In addition, he has seen his plays "When I'm 64," "Hope & Glory," "The Tip," "Opheliacs Anonymous," "Fifth Position," "Blue, Pulchritudinous" (Huntington Award in Playwrighting - First Place) and "Billy Learns About Captain Kirk" receive productions regionally and in Manhattan.
Steven's musical direction and conducting credits include "Falsettos," "The Wizard of Oz," "Aida," "Godspell," "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Imagine That," "The Secret Garden," and "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
His acting credits include "Hard Times" (Thomas Gradgrind), "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (Billy Bibbit), "The Hot L Baltimore" (Paul Granger III), Group Therapy's inaugural production of "Proof" (Robert), "Ubu Rex" (Boogerlas), "Marat/Sade" (Coulmier), "Johnny Got His Gun" (Joe Bonham), a crazed voice in "Betty's Summer Vacation," "How To Succeed..." (Mr. Bratt), "Little Shop of Horrors" (Mr. Mushnik) and "Into the Woods" (twice! - Jack and The Baker).
While not at the theater, Steven maintains life as a private vocal and acting coaching, prepping New York actors on new material and for upcoming auditions. In addition, he runs a blog of free, public domain monologues, all written by him. "Speak the Speech", the monologue database, can be found by clicking here.
Currently, Steven's adaptatioin of "Alice" (based upon "Alice in Wonderland") is playing at the SoHo Playhouse every Saturday at 1pm. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I'd started acting when I was 7, mourning over Eva Peron in community theater. But it wasn't until I was 17 and at the NY State Summer School of the Arts that I realized I wanted to write. We spent a day at the late Lanford Wilson's house in the Hamptons. I'd found myself in his very English garden analyzing BURN THIS with him. He hadn't changed out of his pajamas or shaven before we arrived and there was something very wonderful about it all: lounging all day, thinking up characters and situations in a house that reminded me so very much of the Talley home in FIFTH OF JULY. Then again, I'm writing my plays in a 4th-floor walkup in Astoria...
2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? There are so many people I'd kill to work with. My heroes are Charles Busch, Bartlett Sher and I've got a slight obsession with Patti Lupone. But right now? Well, I've taken a few classes with director-playwright Joe Calarco. He's totally brilliant and I'd kill to experience a rehearsal process with him. Even if I'm just getting his coffee.
3. What made you want to start your own theatre company and how did you come up with the idea and mission behind The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective? I'd started Group Therapy Productions while I was a student at Pace University. There were a lot of "favorites" and "politics" in the program and a lot of students were going unnoticed. GTP was the first student-run "theater company" on campus and functioned totally outside of the department. In its four years of existence, we produced 11 fully-staged productions. Because all student organizations required a mission, charity became our goal. Each production's box office proceeds were donated to a charity whose mission matched the themes of the play we were doing.
When I graduated, I wanted to continue what I'd started but with a new name and a new group of people. It took a while to figure out the name of the company, but I kept coming back to Alice in Wonderland - my favorite childhood story and a constant source of inspiration. And so, The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective came to be.
4. What made you want to write your own version of "Alice"? What makes your story different from other incarnations? Why did you decide now was the right time to bring a new version of "Alice" to the stage? I'd always said I'd "go to Wonderland" when I found the perfect Alice. When I directed Emily Floyd as Ophelia, I knew I found her. Anyone who sees ALICE at the SoHo Playhouse will understand why. I started writing the piece and I'd been listening to a lot of Charles Trenet. Suddenly Wonderland began to look a lot like Paris. And every card seemed to fall right into place...
I'd always loved the story because of the imagination it requires. So, I'd known from the beginning it would be very theatrical with no special effects and only ten actors playing over 20 characters. The audience would really need to use their imagination, something Lewis Carroll lived for.
We work-shopped the piece as a full-length in June and the Playhouse asked if I'd be willing to adapt it into a one-hour adaptation for kids. I think the beauty of Wonderland is that anyone at any age can get lost there. Adults have been laughing at loving the show just as much as the kids have.
5. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together? I should say that my favorite part of the process is the collaboration. But I must admit - tech is always a stressful but exciting time. That moment when all the lighting, costumes and sound cues are in place and the actors can finally feel like its their show...That's my favorite part! I call it the "click."
6. Favorite place to write/practice/rehearse on your own? I usually write and do most of my preliminary work at home. But when rehearsing, I love to work at Space on White in Chinatown.
7. Favorite way to spend your day off? I really hate days off. I love to work. And when I'm not working on a show, I'm always itching to get back in the studio. But I really love spending time at the Union Square farmer's market, looking at the art and drinking fresh apple cider. And the window-shopping.
8. Boxers or Briefs? Commando.
10. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? Elphaba, without a doubt.
11. What is the best advice you've ever received? "Self-consciousness is the death of acting." - Laura Linney
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I have a shameful lust for Zac Efron. But hey! At least I admit it...I'd dream about him anyday.