From Spring To New York And Back To Stages

Casey Burden, one of the lead actors in The Andrews Brothers! now appearing at Stages, started working out extra hard to get ready for his role as one of the stagehands who slaps on a wig and takes over when the Andrews Sisters can't make the USO show because of a chickenpox quarantine.

"It's one of the most demanding roles I've ever played. The physical comedy is just outrageous," Burden told Hair Balls.

He describes his character Lawrence as "kind of high-strung. He tries to be the level-headed guy but he just worries about everything. We've been comparing him (and fellow character Max) to Lucy and Ethel." Like Ethel, Lawrence really doesn't want to take on some of these crazier schemes, but ends up being talked into them, he said.

Burden's appearance here is a homecoming of sorts. Almost exactly 10 years ago he did a play at Stages and got his Equity card. The graduate of Klein Oak High School in Spring still has family living in the Woodlands area, although he is based in New York now. He doesn't miss Houston's summer heat.

But he loves Stages. "It's small enough that you can be intimate with your audiences. As soon as they called me I jumped at the chance to come back here."

"I love theater that makes me think. There's definitely a place for that," Burden said. "This is pretty much just for fun." (It's a real change of pace for director Leslie Swackhamer as well; her recent production of Rabbit Hole at Stages was intense and anything but lighthearted. This time she gets to call on her background in opera and music.)

The songs are from the '40s: "A lot of people are going to recognize the songs. My stepfather knew every song in the show. The difference is that these are Andrews Sisters songs which aren't normally sung by guys."

Another benefit of the show, Burden said, is that with such a small cast, everyone bonded and insisted on sharing the same dressing room.

The Andrews Brothers! at Stages' Yeager Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway one block west of Waugh Drive, runs through August 30. Tickets are available at www.stagestheatre.com.

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