A Cassidy takes on 'Pirates'
Because Patrick is an acting man
By Patricia O'Haire
New York Daily News January 5, 1982
Photo Left Copyrighted by: Mary Dibaise
Photos Page Bottom Copyrighted by: Joan Marcus
Patrick Cassidy celebrated his 20th birthday yesterday. Today he gets his present - a starring role on Broadway in "The Pirates of Penzance," and his name in lights on the marquee at the Minskoff Theatre.
Patrick is tall and thin, with curly blond hair. He replaces Robby Benson in the musical, in the role of young Frederic, the slave of duty. And even after a long day of rehearsals with his five o'clock shadow showing, he's still handsome - and recognizable enough to bring the autograph hounds on 45th street chasing after him to take his signature and his picture.
Starring on Broadway is really heady stuff even for 30 or 40-year olds, but Patrick, while impressed, is taking it in stride. He's just 18 months out of high school and while he may be nervous inside, he's also normally hungry, and he wolfs down a cheeseburger and french fries without any semblance of jitters.
Well, what could one expect from the second son of actress Shirley Jones and the late Jack Cassidy, who was a great favorite of theatregoers and winner of many prizes for his acting and musical comedy abilities. Patrick is also brother of Shaun and half-brother of David, both of whom have done quite well for themselves both in rock music and acting. (There's still another brother Ryan, who'll be 16 in February).
Those are impressive credentials, and the Shirley-Jack-David-Shaun combination are probably four good reasons why he has the role today. But those reasons aside, it’s now up to him to prove himself. When he steps on that stage, he steps on alone. Fortunately, the role is not new to him. He worked his way through the "Pirates" lair in San Francisco, where he sang this part for two-and-a-half months, up until November. Before that, his only professional stage experience was when he toured one summer with his mother in "The Sound of Music", and later in an original musical in Los Angeles. "And I was in 'The Music Man', too," he explains. Then, when he's asked if it was the one with Dick Van Dyke, he laughs shyly and shakes his head, "Oh-oh. I should have mentioned that it was a high school production. But this ("Pirates") is the big one, the really big one for me."
Patrick, probably more than any of his brothers, resembles his actor-singer father, who died five years ago last month. But his parents had divorced the year before that, and Patrick grew up in California with his mother and brothers Shaun and Ryan, and later with his stepfather, Marty Ingels. Now he seems to have decided to follow his father's footsteps and opt for the stage, rather than shadowing his brothers into pop music and the adulation that comes with that.
"I want to be an actor, to be known as an actor and regarded as such. I feel that if I start as an actor first, the singing part will just sort of fall into place. I know - now you're going to ask what I'm doing in a musical if I feel this way. Well, the truth is, this kind of singing, pure singing on stage, in musical comedy, I consider acting."
But if he has done quite a bit of singing, he'd never done any Gilbert and Sullivan before this. "Hey, he laughs, "I didn't even know who they were! As far as opera, or classical music is concerned, I'm about as cultural as, well - I'm an ignoramus! I think I might know that big tenor, Pavarotti, if I saw him on the street, but that's about it when it comes to classical stuff. I'm learning fast!
"It hasn't been easy. For the character of Frederic, it wasn't easy at all. I'm a baritone, and this role was written for a tenor. For me, it's difficult to sing because it doesn't really sit in a place where my voice is comfortable. But now I find I'm hitting notes I never thought I could hit!"
Patrick's first love wasn't theatre or music, but sports. And he was pretty good, too. He was first-string quarterback for his high school football team until he broke his collarbone. "I was a real jock type," he admits. "But that accident, " and he shakes his head. "Too bad, too, because I was having a really excellent season, breaking records, all that. But that sidelined me." And forced him to devote more time to acting and singing.
"Actually, I'm more a 'legit' singer than either David or Shaun. Both can do the legit stuff, too, but they decided to go in another direction. Yes, I can play drums. I play some piano, too, and I also write and compose.
"I've had the opportunity to do records, but I've chosen to steer away from that area, and yes, in some way it is because my brothers did it first. I'm worried about picking up that kind of image. It's not any easy one to break out of. I know the average person would give the shoes off their feet to have that problem, but I made a conscious decision against it.
"What I'm doing here, well-it's a lot different from belting out rock and roll. You know, I was here last year and I went to see 'Pirates' then, with Kevin in this show, Rex in this show and Linda (that's Kline, Smith and Ronstadt, the original stars). I had no conception I would ever be doing this role, mainly because I thought it was much too high for me.
"But, here I am!"