'Newsies' star Corey Cott returns to Pittsburgh to cheer on brother


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On Aug. 24, Corey Cott gave his regards to Broadway, and Thursday the star of “Newsies” was in Pittsburgh, enjoying momentary down time for the first time in two years. The Carnegie Mellon grad had been front and center in the hit Disney musical, which closed at the Nederlander Theater after 1,000 performances.

These days, there’s another Cott onstage, and Corey, having traded his newsboy cap for a black baseball cap, was here to be a member of the audience. Casey Cott, Corey’s younger brother and a CMU junior acting major, is in the cast of Front Porch Theatrical’s “Parade,” while also attending classes and rehearsing a university production.

Casey, a transfer from Boston University, came to acting later than his brother, and high school was the last time Corey saw him onstage. Both have been busy, of course, but now Corey is looking forward to some time off with his wife and to making time for special trips like catching up with his brother at his alma mater.

“I’ve done this show as long as Casey’s been in college. When you do something like this, it’s in your blood, it’s in your routine, and you can’t really know what you have until it’s gone,” said Corey Cott, who arrived earlier in the day with friend Matt Perkins, a writer and filmmaker, and was whisked to speak at Don Wadsworth's Business of Acting class.

“I have a whole other perspective on New York City — I’ve never lived in New York City without ‘Newsies’; I’ve never been married without ‘Newsies.’ It’s only been three days,” Corey added with a smile, “but it’s kind of liberating in that sense, to have a new perspective on what my life is.”

He’s looking forward to trying new things, but the period of time he had planned to take off might be a little shorter than expected, even though he had given specific dates to his agents and manager.

“Then yesterday I had two auditions for something that would shoot this week, but I can’t turn it down because it’s two potential jobs that would change my career,” he said.

He’s looking at screen roles these days because the casts of most Broadway shows and tours are set for the season, while episodic TV series are in the process of shooting and still seeking guest stars.

When the native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, spoke at that CMU class, it was from the enviable position of having landed a starring role on Broadway within weeks of graduation. Now that he’s entering the great unknown that most actors struggle with, he’s embracing the newness of whatever comes his way.

Before his 2012 graduation, Corey spent a couple of summers as a member of the Pittsburgh CLO ensemble, and now Casey is taking advantage of the Pittsburgh theater scene with his role in the production of “Parade” at the New Hazlett Theater that includes several CMU friends and his girlfriend, Kristin Serafini, who attends Point Park University.

Casey sees himself more as an actor than a musical theater guy, which might have been a factor in winning his multi-role position in “Parade.”

Asked how he will feels when he looks into the audience and sees his brother, Casey said, “I don’t know that I’m nervous as much as excited that he is able to be here because I know how busy he is.”

Their family-first relationship allows Corey to feel free about offering tips and advice without any hesitation.

“As an older brother, there’s this idea of the younger brother catching up to you,” Corey said. “But I feel like in this past year, going to college and going through the trenches of school and stuff, having the same and different experiences, it’s brought us inevitably closer. This business is a very tough place, an exhausting place, so it’s good to surround yourself with good family, good friends. That’s what we have.”

It’s also inevitable that there will be comparisons, especially following in the footsteps of a brother who made it through the same school and found success so quickly.

“I have to say it’s been really great,” Casey said. “We’ve always been really great brothers and now we’re two actors who do very similar things but also very different things. … I know the teachers have been very delicate about that and also really cool about it.”

Carnegie Mellon professor Wadsworth, a voice teacher and coach who has worked as a dialect coach for Broadway and movie productions, has watched the development of both Cotts.

“As similar as you might think they are, to us they are quite different,” Mr. Wadsworth said. “We never look at [Casey] as his brother; he got here on his own entirely. I think Corey, people would say he has this quality, although he has many, he has this ability to bring the audience to him. There’s always heart in his performance. And I think that’s what made ‘Newsies’ so successful. Casey has a completely different thing. There’s a strength and a groundedness that is to me, is kind of a forerunning quality. You notice it right away.”

Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. Twitter: seberson@post-gazette.com.


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