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Book of Mormon's Cassedy dishes on ducks and his dog Durham

Summer in Seattle means the amphibious Ducks are lumbering down the streets with passengers doing sing-alongs. This week, you might even spot one of the stars of the touring "Book of Mormon" quacking it up with his grandmother.

Which is what you might expect Pierce Cassedy’s character Elder McKinley to do, if he wasn't having the sort of adventures that only the creators of “South Park” could imagine. The actor took a little time on the road to Seattle to say "hello!" and answer a few questions about landing his first big touring role.

You mentioned in an earlier interview that you'd never seen "The Book of Mormon" before you tried out for the show. What made you want to pursue this part?
As soon as I heard the original cast album in 2011, I knew I wanted to be a part of the show. Since I was still in school, this dream seemed rather lofty but I wasn't deterred. As an actor, there are certain projects or shows that have that magnetizing effect and who am I to ignore an urge so primal? I was aiming to be in the ensemble, but luck would have it that they needed a McKinley.

The sheer number of raunchy jokes as well as the truly sweet soul of the show really don’t hit you until you see it on stage. What did you think?
The end of the show speaks the most to me. The final message, not to give too much away, is that we need to focus less on the afterlife, and more on consciously making an effort to better the lives of each person in the present regardless of religious belief. My most shocked moment was finding out what the African villagers' Hakuna Matata-esque mantra "Hasa Diga Eebowai" truly means! I remember thinking, "Well I never!" in an old-timey accent.

So now that you've been on the road a bit, what's the best part of touring with a big Broadway production?
It's been performing! First and foremost, I love to entertain, so to have an outlet such as this is an outright (hashtag) blessing. Second would of course be seeing the West Coast! I grew up in Florida, went to school in the Mid-West, and moved to NYC. I've been driving city to city and let me tell you, that song "America the Beautiful" is based on a true story.

What's the most important thing in your luggage? Anything you wished you took with you?
The most important thing in my luggage would be my dog, Durham. His patience is amazing when I zip him into the suitcase. If I didn't have him, I'm not sure who I would talk to after long, hard days. But seriously, he's a champion cuddler. Wishing I had packed something, however, doesn't cross my mind so much as "why the heck did I pack all this junk?!?"

Have any special plans for your time off?
I visited Seattle once when I was six years old, when I developed acrophobia from my brother dangling me perilously over the edge of the Space Needle. Good times....but I digress. I'm very, very excited because I have family in Seattle! My grandmother Nina is coming to visit us all, and she's taking us on a Duck tour. She loves ducks, I love ducks, we all love ducks. And I love Nina, so I'll be a happy camper. Looking very much forward to it all!


“The Book of Mormon” opens July 22 and plays through August 10 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle. For more on tickets and times, see the website.

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