COLUMNS

Patrick Cassidy: An amazing ‘Joe’

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • October 19, 2005

by Karen Feld

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Patrick Cassidy, 43, is a family man, and Washington audiences reap the benefits. The multi-talented and strikingly handsome actor opened last night as Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Warner Theatre through Sunday. His wife, Melissa Hurley, an accomplished dancer, is in the show, too. “She seduces me every evening and on stage as well,” joked Cassidy. Their two sons – Cole, 10, and Jack, 7 – are part of the kids chorus, doing a reduced schedule of four shows a week. They travel with a nanny/tutor. “I wanted the kids to experience the country firsthand and especially Washington,” Cassidy told me over lunch Tuesday at Logan Tavern.

Training and diet

The charismatic actor ordered two turkey burgers, nothing on them, and a cobb salad. “I can’t have the cheese, and she [looking across the table at me] doesn’t want me to have the onions,” Cassidy told the waiter. Then he explained that he watches what he eats, but his diet includes three protein supplement shakes a day. “I go shirtless 80 percent of the time in ‘Joseph.’ ” In fact, he looks amazing in his skirt and multicolored loincloth which he wears on stage. Cassidy, who describes himself as a Type A and obsessive-compulsive, started training three months before rehearsals began for the tour and routinely does a 90-minute gym workout before his on-stage workout.

The actor has played eclectic roles – from Howard in the film “Longtime Companion” to Julian Marsh in “42nd Street” and Bobby in “Company.” “It’s all about hair color and losing and gaining weight,” he says. No complaints in the looks department for this 6-foot-2, 175-pound handsome devil. “The gym has made me so strong. It’s about my psyche now,” he explains.

‘Egypt meets South Beach’

This show is all about stamina. Cassidy compares the 90 minutes he’s on stage to an aerobics class. “This version is Egypt meets South Beach,” he says. “It’s one big Egyptian party.” Last night, the Cassidy clan strolled down the street to the Old Ebbitt Grill atrium for the opening night cast party.

While in town, a tour of the White House is on his hectic family schedule, but no word as to whether the first residents will be home. “I keep quiet when it comes to politics,” Cassidy said. Nevertheless, when he last played this city in “Conrack” at Ford’s Theatre, then-first lady Barbara Bush brought the first President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to see the show.

Major showbiz family

Born on the set of “Music Man,” Cassidy gets his looks and talent from his well-known show business family: his mother, Shirley Jones, and his father, the late Jack Cassidy, both successful actors, singers and dancers; half-brother David, a teen idol turned Vegas star; and brothers Shaun, now a writer/producer, and Ryan, a scenic designer. When asked if he wants his sons to continue the showbiz tradition, Cassidy didn’t hesitate: “I hope not.” His mother always told him, “I don’t want you in the business. Do this, but have another skill.”

One of the difficult things for Cassidy about growing up in a showbiz family “was to get robbed of a childhood.” He admits that “sports helped me be a kid.” He hopes his own kids have the perspective that “this is what everybody does. Everybody has a job.” When Cassidy was a youngster, his father was on the road much of the time – “being a father was not his priority” – and it took its toll on the family. “We have a two-week rule in our relationship,” said Cassidy, who is never apart from his wife, Melissa, for longer than that.

Seeking a balance

“Everything about my career is getting the equation right,” Cassidy said. For him, that means always putting his wife first, kids second and career third. “I need that stability,” he said. “I’ve never thought of myself as anything other than an actor who wanted to work.” And he’s done the gamut.

He says he learned a lot from his mother, whom he worked with recently – and for the first time – on Broadway in “42nd Street.” “That’s when I understood why she’s been a star all these years. She has an essence, a presence that radiates from her. Instead of just looking at her as my mother, I finally saw what other people see. She has the ‘it’ factor. As a son, I took tremendous pride.” Cassidy said he based his character on his late father, whom he strongly resembles. “Dad’s spirit is so alive. It’s so there all the time.”

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