In Theatre Trip’s “Spotlight On” series, we’re chatting with some of the most interesting and influential people in the theatre industry. And today we’re doing a special feature on Joey Cassata, a drummer, writer, actor, and producer of a brand-new series.
Joey Cassata is probably best known to Theatre Trip’s readers as being the original long-term drummer for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. But on top of drumming for a staggering 500 + shows with The Great Comet, he has also been a member of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, starred in/co-produced the series Z Rock, and toured the country with his band ZO2.
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What first inspired you to pick up a pair of drum sticks?
“When I was 5 years old I attended my very first concert at Madison Square Garden … KISS!! Peter Criss’s massive drum set looked like a giant spaceship to me. I knew right then that playing the drums was all I would ever want to do.”
After playing over 500 shows of Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812, do you ever pop on the cast recording just for fun?
“It’s so funny, because my wife and kids play it all the time. My kids sing and dance to it. They even act out some of the parts. My wife says that every time that it comes on I look like I’m in trance. I think I still hear the click track in my head every time I hear those songs, haha.”
How did you end up getting involved with The Great Comet?
“My good friend Or Matias was the Music Director and he called me one day and asked if I wanted to be part of it. Or and I go way back. We played in the Trans Siberian Orchestra together for many years.”
What do you find to be the biggest differences between playing for a band and playing for the theatre?
“Wow, there are so many! The biggest difference is that in theater, you are basically performing the exact same show every night. When you perform in a band, you have so much room to improve and try different things in your playing.”
“One minute you can be playing at the Tony Awards for 10 million people and the next you can be playing in a bar for 10. It’s all about sticking with it through the highs and lows.”
Is there a musical that you would love to drum for one day?
“Yes! I’m actually going to be sub playing for Gettin’ The Band Back Together on Broadway now. It’s such a fun show!! Great music, great energy and absolutely hysterical.”
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face in your career so far?
“Anyone that is in the performing arts knows that there are always waves of ups and downs. One minute you can be playing at the Tony Awards for 10 million people and the next you can be playing in a bar for 10. It’s all about sticking with it through the highs and lows. Those are the only people that really succeed.”
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
“Not really. I don’t even really warm up. Just some light stretching and maybe a sip of scotch. =)”
What advice would you give someone who is aspiring to be a professional musician?
“If you LOVE what you do then stick with it and give 100% all the time. You will never succeed if you are just going through the motions. You have to really be passionate about anything you do to succeed!”
Do you have a mentor (imaginary or real)?
“Not really. Maybe Rocky Balboa! =)”
What’s next for you?
“Like I mentioned above, I’m going to be playing with Gettin’ The Band Back Together. I’m also in so many other musical projects right now as well as acting and writing. Additionally, I’m developing my own TV series called “Wrestling With Joeylicious” starring myself and many wrestling Legends!”
What did you think of this interview with Joey Cassata?
Are any of you working as or aspiring to be a professional musician? Feel free to share in the comments below! And in the meantime, you can read even more of our exciting theatre interviews with other inspiring people in the industry!
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Author: Stacy Karyn
Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She holds a BA in theatre, a TESOL drama certificate, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.