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As Years go by: We are Casey

Posted by on Monday, April 3, 2017 in 1010 blog posts, Blog posts.

The Original Cast is hyped on campus as being the ‘it’ musical theater showcase, priding itself on being entirely student run and produced since 1975 and being Vanderbilt’s only Musical Revue. Based on the fourteen-person cast size, being in the Original Cast seems an accomplishment in itself, and the vocal talent and range of the actors prove to the campus held esteem. Every performer holds a feature role, and the close-knit ties of the cast are evident. As I walk into Langford Auditorium Friday night to catch the opening of As Years Go By directed by Logan Keller, I welcomed the idea of a heartfelt musical revue that carries entertainment value and hidden resonances of relatability, but the performance proved to carry much deeper cultural meaning and self-realization than expected.  As Years Go By delves into the double-sidedness of social expectation and norms with struggling to find individual identity and ideals of achievement.


Royal blue is the defining color Casey wears and distinct the character from the rest of the cast. Casey is played by every performer at different times and takes on many different faces and features. By having no one actor play Casey, there are no leads and an equal distribution of solos and flexible casting. Yet the story still flows through its solos, ballads, and ensembles. It follows Casey’s life through childhood into mid-adulthood, covering the uncertainty, awkwardness, and joys in between. The musical aspect of the production allows for connection to emotions that can only be experienced through musical theater. The fact that the production is a musical revue allows inspiration and musical texts to be drawn from popular and iconic theater productions and even cinematic movies that create a dimensional and unique musical performance.

A few musical numbers are performed set in the earlier years of their life recreating the wide-eyed wonder we had for the world and the nostalgia it brings into the present reminiscing about. But through the stage time is sped up and Casey quickly enters into adolescence. Queue in scenes about social anxiety, fitting in, love, and ambitions. While Casey’s teenage years are filled with normal teenage moments, the musical revue creates multidimensional feelings and emotions that leave us wondering ‘who is Casey and what do they want?’ which is the same question Casey seems to ask. Faced in a whirlwind of aspirations to be a successful writer, Casey often finds they are stuck waiting for their ‘big moment’ when they are truly living life and their dreams. Our own worlds can feel very similar; waiting for internship acceptances, mulling over our futures instead of being present in the moment and finding the value in the now.

Just as Casey encounters unexpected bumps (no pun intended) in the road like pregnancy or having to hold off their writing endeavors, Vanderbilt students can relate to how no semester ever goes completely according to plan. Life is filled with uncertainty, yet Casey’s ability to persevere and adapt in the end exemplifies the flexibility we all could use.

The cast members of the Original cast have a Senior majority, and the storyline is fitting of growing up, advancing through iconic pillars in life, and entering into the world of college and beyond as they make their next transitional step in real life. As the final Original Cast show for these Seniors makes its way, and they move on into the next chapter of their lives, this production seemed like a perfect way to unite us all in the commons angst, worries, laughs, and joys we experience in our young adult lives. As the actors said in the play, “I’m Casey” and as we realize in the end, we all are Casey.

10 Comments on “As Years go by: We are Casey”

I think it is amazing that this play is ran by students and when I found this out I was shocked as I could not imagine all the hard work and preparation that went into it. Casey is a unique character as it is hard to get a grasp on him because of the many different views you get of him. The different sides of Casey make you focus in more and follow the awkwardness through Casey’s life.

I agree with you completely as I thought of this also connecting back to a students life because at the time you do not know what is meant for you and you are anxious for something but should sit back and enjoy the moment. The musical part of this play is a great follow as it helps get you going through Casey’s life.

The point you make about things being unexpected and the way it ties back to students is spot on. You never know how things are going to hit you and Casey gets hit with a bump in the road real quick.

The play was great and is so amazing it is done by students. Well done!!

Justin Wilson on April 7th, 2017 at 9:37 am

Like Reagan and Justin I had no idea that the play was ran by students. It is truly remarkable to see all of their handwork pay off into a beautiful play. My favorite part about this play had to be how they used Casey, the main character, throughout. It gave us as viewers a perception of what people go through in life. The way you could connect with Casey is easy due to the fact many people played Casey’s character.
The connections that are associated with this play are easily shown and transcribed. The present connection I made is when Casey’s life is revolved around College and the after life of college. The feelings associated with that connection is exactly how every college student feels at one point in his or her life.
This play was very enjoyable and the connection on stage is just as good as the connection put towards the crowd. It was outstanding to watch and be apart of the audience as those students portrayed all of our problems into a realistic, yet laughable play.

Chandler Day on April 10th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

As Reagan mentions in this piece, Casey being established as a character with many different viewpoints, the audience is able to decide what they take from Casey’s experiences throughout the showcase. Being challenged to stay in touch with “where your feet are” and not past experiences or future experiences is something that every human faces daily. How you approach the little decisions throughout your day turn out to be very big decisions sometimes. Casey feels so fixated on becoming this awesome writer who embodies all this fame when really Casey should be enjoying the process of what Casey is doing.

Life is often unscripted and experiences that you go through can’t be planned out. You may have certain events in your life go the way you want them or they may not go the way you want them to, but you have to embrace them and be willing to adapt. Life is full of mountaintops and valleys which makes it so beautiful.

Connor Kaiser on April 10th, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Like the rest of you, I was completely enthralled and astounded by the Original Cast performance of As Years Go By. The talent extended beyond many Broadway performances that I’ve seen, by relying on the music more than any other medium to tell the story of Casey. I could not help but connect Casey to Peter Gnit of Gnit, which was performed not long before it, in that they both ring true to the theme of growing up at the expense of never living in the moment. Like Gnit, I felt the Original Cast ended the show on a slightly desolate note, but there was room for reconciliation, specifically with the song “Always Starting Over” from the musical If/Then. Casey’s relatedness to us all especially resonates in the line, “My new life starts right now.” In each stage of our lives, it feels as though we are “always back at one, after all I’ve done,” entering high school, college, or even simply the next semester. We may repeat the same mistakes or learn from them only to find ourselves at what feels like the beginning. It is easy to feel caught in an endless cycle of negativity and purposelessness or choose to combat this idea with an air of positivity; instead, with each moment you have an opportunity to start anew with a blank page. In fact, looking back on the past is effectively pointless if its sole purpose is rumination. Stop thinking about the past, and stop thinking about the future while waiting for your life to begin because it truly does “start right now.”

Catherine Kvam on April 10th, 2017 at 9:57 pm

As Reagan mentions, I find it fascinating how Original Cast establishes the character Casey through a variety of actors and actresses. On one hand, I agree with Chandler that the many performers playing Casey make it easier for a diverse audience to connect with the character. On the other hand, I would like to emphasize how different performers take away the individual element in Casey’s struggle and make Casey’s rough journey through life a universal one. Usually in a musical, the production team painstakingly looks for an actor or actress whose physical appearance helps establish the personalities and the background of a character. This way, the audience can quickly immerse themselves into the setup of the musical. On the opposite, Original Cast is not depicting an individual story. It is telling a story that belongs to everyone. Original Cast deliberately strips away the sense of individuality as performers of different genders, heights and races play the character. This way, a performer’s physical appearance would not be a distraction to the audience. The audience realize that we all encounter hardships in life no matter what background we come from. It is interesting to me how Original Cast chooses to portray a universal theme considering that the US culture is mostly individualistic. The collective story-telling aspect of Original Cast is not only refreshing but also differentiates itself from other musicals, where emphasis is placed on individuals.

Tianhan Liu on April 11th, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Just like the rest of you guys, I really like the fact that every actor on stage was playing Casey in As Years Go By. This play revealed the life of Casey from childhood to adolescence to college to adulthood to mid-life crisis and eventually to elderhood. Because every actor was playing Casey, this play created a very immersive space where every single one of the audience could understand and sympathize with Casey’s predicament at some point. “I’m Casey”: we are all Casey.

Moreover, As Years Go By portrayed Casey’s life in a very realistic way. There were childhood dreams, adolescence awkwardness, college aspirations, adulthood joyfulness, mid-life crisis etc. These were all incidents that we could relate to ourselves or might experience in the future. Although we have all those life bumps in the journey, life needs to move on. To me, As Years Go By not only revealed a very realistic ordinary person’s life but also an optimistic one: we all have those good or bad moments in life. But if we hang in there, those setbacks can be overcome. Just like Casey, our tolerating abilities and abilities to bring changes might sometimes be beyond our imaginations.

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Shuying Xu on April 12th, 2017 at 12:46 am

As Reagan and many others have mentioned, the use of multiple actors for one character was brilliant way to depict the central themes of identity and time throughout As Years Go By. Casey endures through an identity struggle and the roller coaster of life, which is extraordinarily presented in a diverse and universal manner. While the situations and life events that Casey experiences are already pretty common, the audience was further able to relate to this character through the use of both male and female performers of different shapes and sizes. The message throughout this production is important for Vanderbilt students to view as we consistently think about our future and forget to think of our past and ourselves. Vicariously experiencing Casey’s life through different actors from childhood and beyond can also help Vandy students understand the ever-changing identity one goes through life. Each performer represents the different identity we take on as we encounter every stage of life.
I also agree with Shuying that As Years Go By perfectly presented Casey’s life in a relatable and authentic way. The production doesn’t shy away from showing all the possible and expected highs and lows of everyone’s life and shows that both are necessary for an optimistic existence

Amber Chaves Rojas on April 12th, 2017 at 2:21 pm

It is honestly remarkable what these fourteen students are able to do at such a young age. I am not the most familiar of the theatre industry, but I am familiar with preparation and hard work in order to perform at a high level. Watching this play was a testament to the time the students put in, their talent, and intelligence.

I was really taken back by how the cast members were able to depict Casey throughout is life. In most plays each performer has a specific character that is easy to follow, but this play is different. Everyone is Casey, which could make it difficult for the audience to keep up with. Initially I felt as if I looked away from the stage once I would be lost, but the actors did a great job on making things clear for the audience at all times.

I think all of us can attest to the struggles of life at times, and college more specifically. As a student athlete at Vanderbilt there is a lot of responsibilities to juggle each day. One day, football can be great and I am playing at a high level, but I did not get the grade I expected in the classroom and the community service I committed to is conflicting study hall and tutoring time. Another day, I could be doing great in the classroom, but I had to stay up to two oclock in the morning to get the grade I wanted and football practice starts at five in the morning. The unexpected is my life and I can relate to that part of Casey’s life.

Clarence Duncan on April 12th, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Watching As Years Go By was truly an interactive experience; I had my mom sitting to my right in the audience and I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without laughing at the incredible casts’ performance. I was completely blown away at the fact that it is run by students! From the terrific choreography to the colorful song lyrics, this musical was definitely a ton of fun to witness! What I loved the most was that each character seemed to be cast accurately, according to each actor’s unique set of talents and skills. Reagan mentions that there was no lead cast member, but rather each actor got his or her very own spotlighted solo! I thought this was a great touch that would make each graduating senior feel special and that their last time performing with Original Cast was both rewarding and fair.
I also really appreciated the musical numbers, which described Casey’s life in chronological order. Although I have not experienced every stage of life yet, I definitely related to those in which life has already presented to me. From young awkwardness to my first crush to present day college life, I felt that I, too, could morph into another Casey and frolic on stage. Reagan makes a remark that I totally agree with, as he says that we, the audience members, are all like Casey as we mull over the future when we should just be enjoying life as it throws itself at us. I know I can oftentimes get caught up in things that cause me to temporarily stress about the unknown, however, I need to learn to adapt with any type of circumstance, just as Casey did. It makes way for much less worry and dissatisfaction if we just decrease the level of our expectations about how we think everything is going to pan out. Moreover, I think that As Years Go By was, for the most part, a very accurate if not slightly stretched truth of what a human goes through in their life. Life has lots of ups and downs, lots of emotions, and we can only hope to learn to go along with the ebb and flow of it.

Marni Wolchok on April 12th, 2017 at 9:56 pm

In response to “Watching as Years Go By” I found this experience to be a very positive one, as I found myself chuckling and laughing throughout the entire performance. Along with many of my fellow classmates, I was also taken back at how impressive this play was, considering professionals had nothing to do with the production! The students in charge did a magnificent job with this production, and I was very pleased to hear the initiative they all took to create such a wonderful piece of art. I especially connected to what Clarence said about the event, as he explained he is not familiar with theatre, but he is familiar with hard work turning into a finished polished product. Playing baseball here at vandy has shown me how much to appreciate when things go your way on the field, as you put forward hours and hours of preparation. I was happy to see how smoothly their choreography transitioned from scene to scene. Watching this made it clear to me the hard work and dedication it took for this play write to become a reality. Another thing that was very impressive is how the actors were able to do such a good job stringing the audience along and not allowing us to become confused, as everyone plays “Casey”. This play had an impact on me as it showed how real life can be within the play. There are many unexpected things that can happen on a day day basis, and this was especially relatable.

Matthew Ruppenthal on April 26th, 2017 at 4:25 pm

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