Born in November 1983, Josh Cassell claims he came into the world “weighing 12lbs and 4oz, making me a pain from the very beginning.” Cassell has always had a knack for comedy, which is how his acting journey began. In the fall of 2022, Cassell came to Smokestack Theatre Company looking for improv classes, which he was interested in because of the character Michael Scott from The Office. (No, he is not joking.) Though Smokestack offers improv classes, he showed up to audition for its annual historical walking tour Ghosts & Gravestones. Cassell gave it a shot since he was already there. It ended up being a very happy accident.
Since stumbling upon the audition, Cassell has now been in five Smokestack productions and is a member of Smokestack Improv. (He did finally find what he was actually looking for.) In only his second production on the stage, Cassell was lucky enough to be given his dream role of Wadsworth in Clue. He said, “To get the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Tim Curry is something I could never have dreamed of even 6 months before. Rolling, running, and falling flat on my back on that stage is something I still think about at least once a day. I will be able to do the solo rundown of that play the rest of my life. Though I am glad I don’t still have a pencil mustache.”
Being new to the stage can be tough at first. Cassell has had to quickly adapt and learn what his processes are and continues to hone them. When asked how he prepares for a role, Cassell shared, “I make most of my character decisions at auditions and shape it where it fits once we are all together with the help of the amazing directors. Each character I have played has been a little piece of me already that I just had to pull out.” Though this world may be new to him, it has come naturally. Cassell says he has not fallen victim to stage fright, and in fact, performing is the most exciting thing he has done.
When thinking about the qualities an actor must have, many people’s first thoughts would be talent, projection, memorization, or patience. Cassell thinks otherwise. He said, “Desire is the only quality I think an actor requires. If you can make the commitment to put in your best, then anything else you bring to the table is a bonus. Every actor brings something different, and every actor has a different process, but the common denominator is easily the love of being there and the desire to support everyone around you.”
In 2024, Cassell is thoroughly looking forward to another year of improv. For him, getting on stage and “making a fool of myself” is something he loves and is very cathartic. He is enthusiastic about finding out his upcoming roles and is ready for the challenge of any part the directors choose to give him. He would also like to share, “No matter if it is acting, or work, or relationships, be yourself, be honest, and be kind. It attracts the people who belong around you and that’s important to fill yourself up with. I wasn’t around the right people for a long time, and I have finally found my weirdos.”