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Cass Morgan

Presenting the first in our series of profiles of Rochester Community Theatre Alumni
By Michael H. Arve

Broadway audiences first fell in love with Cass Morgan, a Rochester New York native and alumnae of the Rochester community theatre scene almost 30 years ago when she and Debra Monk played sassy sister waitresses in the charming Tony-nominated musical Pump Boys and Dinettes.

At lunch one day when Cass was here playing Mrs. Paroo in GEVA’s The Music Man, (along with Rochester’s John Bolton) we reminisced about our days at the old Rochester Community Playhouse Teen Theatre. Of those days she said: “I did Dark of the Moon, Waterbabies, The Wizard of Oz, and Teahouse of the August Moon in Teen Summer Theatre at RCP. It must have '61 or '62. My first exposure to RCP and to actual theatre, outside of grade school (where I always played the mother even at 8 or 9) was the year before that, when my best friend June Linowitz dragged me there. I was a lonely, misfit 14 year old, and she was too, but she'd found the Teen Theatre. She was doing props for The Boyfriend, and I tagged along one day. The minute I walked through the doors of that wonderful old building on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Meigs Street. I was hooked. I breathed in the indescribable, decades-old aroma of painted flats and old curtains and (yes) greasepaint, and it was as if I'd woken from a coma. I fell in love with theatre that day, and I've never looked back.”

I was fortunate enough to have worked with Cass back then in Waterbabies at RCP and then in the TDA Associates' production of Christopher Columbus in which she played a gorgeous mermaid.

Cass received her Equity Card 40 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee at the Old Front Street Theatre. An interesting fact since she just finished playing Mama Calhoun in the smash hit Memphis. She originated the role and played it until recently when she came to Rochester to play Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man. She has been on Broadway continuously since 1982 when she appeared in the smash Tony- nominated hit Pump Boys & Dinettes, a show she co-wrote with her then Husband, Jim Wann, and John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel.

Other Broadway credits include: the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins, Ring of Fire, a Johnny cash tribute, Capeman, the Paul Simon musical, and Beauty and the Beast in which she played Mrs. Potts. She was also no stranger to Off-Broadway audiences and did many productions among them being the original production of Floyd Collins. She has also done many national tours and remains a working singer/actress today.

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