Left: June Havoc in her film days. Right: Cassie Hurt-McLarty, 16.
Cassie Hurt-McLarty has come a long way since her first PCT show: “The Music Man” (2006) in the 25th anniversary season.
“I fell and broke my nose on stage,” she recalled. “I finished the show with tears running down my face.”
Ten years later, she is helping PCT celebrate its 35th year with a bigger part, a resumé that includes dozens of shows, and her sights set on show business as a career.
It’s appropriate, she says, that this year’s show is “Gypsy.”
“It’s a show about show business,” she said. “I am serious about wanting to do this when I grow up.”
A student of vocal instructor and fellow PCT performer Lisa Gerstenkorn, Cassie plans to pursue a degree in vocal performance and will be happy, she said, working in any aspect of the performing arts.
Starting in PCT’s Jr. Starz Children’s Summer Theatre Workshop as a 6-year-old, Cassie has amassed credits in shows at Pittsburg Community Middle School, Pittsburg High School, Showbiz Kids, Midwest Regional Ballet, and 10 musicals with PCT.
Her favorite role? “Probaby Sarah Brown in ‘Guys & Dolls’ at PHS,” she said. “And I really, really loved being in Evita last summer with PCT.”
She screamed, she said, when Gypsy stage manager Deanna Grotheer called with the news that she would portray June, the sister of Louise (later known as Gypsy Rose Lee).
Notebooks she keeps while preparing for shows now include research for her current character, as well as the time period, old vaudeville acts — anything she can find to inspire her and get into the mindset of the person she’s portraying.
“I have pages of quotes from Mama Rose and June,” she said. "And lots of photos."
While she can relate to June’s ambitions to be a big Broadway star, there are differences. At 16, the real-life June married a boy in her vaudeville act. Her mother, who is portrayed in the musical as Mama Rose, was overbearing and would stop at nothing to see her child become a star — including telling her as a child that her dog died in an effort to get her to cry on stage when an act required it.
Cassie’s real-life moms, Pam Hurt-McLarty (“Mommy”) and Lisa Hurt-McLarty (“Mama”) never miss one of her performances, and more often than not, they’re working as stage crew on shows and attend rehearsals. Pam recently drove Cassie to Utah for a vocal music workshop.
"But they aren't at all overbearing," Cassie said. "They are quiet, very loving and very supportive."
Don't miss Cassie on stage as June in Gypsy July 28-31; tickets are on sale now at www.memorialauditorium.org and at the box office at 503 N. Pine, 620-231-7827.
This blog is a spot for journalist Andra Stefanoni, a PCT board member who also has been cast in several productions, to allow audiences a peek behind the scenes.