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Article posted: 7/19/2013 5:44 AM

Wheaton native stars as stressed secretary in 'The Casuals'


@X BTO Byline attribution italic:rsimpson@dailyherald.com

Actress Emily Casey's latest role is packed with pressure.

The Wheaton native plays Marnie, the secretary of fictional former military radio host Richard Hughes (Ed Dzialo), in Jackalope Theatre Company's "The Casuals." In the play, currently at Chicago's Storefront Theater, Marnie and Hughes must keep government secrets under wraps while he faces added pressure from his personal life.

Casey said Marnie's stressful job is "like doing surgery" because her character conducts top secret interviews with Hughes and tries to resolve tense situations.

"She's trying her very best to follow orders," Casey said.

Casey, 29, can relate, having juggled unusual jobs over the years.

Casey has taught at Lincoln Park Preschool, nannied and worked as a "child wrangler" backstage during the Chicago run of the award-winning musical "Billy Elliot," where she was in charge of the young actors.

As a coffee shop barista in New York, Casey once made orange juice for actor Tim Robbins -- even though the shop didn't sell orange juice.

Casey had to run across the street, buy oranges at the market, bring them back and squeeze them for Robbins.

"I only got a pitiful, half-full glass of orange juice," Casey said with a laugh. "He said 'No thank you.'"

The stress of working in a coffee shop -- "I remember feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders bringing people coffee," she said -- inspired her as Marnie in "The Casuals."

Acting is only one of Casey's talents.

She graduated from Hope College in 2006 with an MBA in theater, which includes acting, directing, stage design and lighting.

She also writes her own folk songs using her two guitars, violin and four ukuleles. She'll be performing at 8:40 p.m. Aug. 21 at Uncommon Ground in Chicago.

She said her love of music stems from her interesting family.

Her salesman father moonlighted as a musician and integrated his guitar, banjo and mandolin into his seven children's lives, be it through music lessons or bedtime singalongs.

"We're some kind of weird version of the Partridge family," said Casey, the oldest of her siblings. "(Music) has been a big part of my life."

While she's an actress first and foremost, Casey has combined her talents in the Hypocrites' productions "Pirates of Penzance" and "Mikado" by acting, singing and playing instruments.

"I love theater and continue to pursue it," Casey said. "But music has been a recent dream for me, and I really love it."

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