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Camaraderie keeps O'Leary coming back to St. Vincent Summer Theater

Shirley McMarlin
| Friday, June 23, 2017, 1:09 p.m.
Cav O’Leary
Ricky Gee
Cav O’Leary

Among St. Vincent Summer Theatre's stable of actors is Greensburg native Kevin Daniel O'Leary, know professionally as Cav O'Leary. He'll be onstage in “See How They Run,” a British farce that premiered in 1944, running at St. Vincent from June 29 through July 16.

After graduating from Hempfield Area Senior High School, O'Leary studied theater at Penn State and culinary arts at Westmoreland County Community College, before graduating from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts. He now lives in Manhattan.

For the past year, he's taken a break from auditioning to focus on his musical talents, which he says is “really gratifying to be able to do something creative without all the competition and stress of constant rejection. I plan to start auditioning again when I return to NYC after the summer.”

He also bartends in Manhattan's theater district, working alongside another Greensburg native and good friend, the actress Kiley Caughey.

Question: Can you give a brief synopsis of the St. Vincent show?

Answer: “See How They Run” is a classic British comedy that has a little bit of everything you'd want in a farce ... a madcap night of mistaken identities, chase sequences, slapstick and accidental drunkenness.

Q: How would you describe your character, Lionel Toop?

A: Lionel is the town vicar — conservative and kind, albeit a little naive. I just think there's something so inherently likable and relatable about him. He's that guy who always tries to do the right thing, but he has so much to deal with that occasionally he's on the verge of an emotional breakdown. There's also a lot of physical comedy to explore, and I always love a good pratfall.

Q: What brings you back to St. Vincent summer after summer?

A: The camaraderie. I know it sounds cliche and exaggerated, but SVST is truly like having a little alternate family. It's like a summer camp that so many of us keep coming back to. We essentially turn into a group of children: we laugh way too much (both offstage and on), we listen to bad '80s music and play competitive card games and scream and tell hilarious stories that everyone has heard over and over again.

The magic is that all of this carrying-on forms a connection among us that makes us work together better onstage. It's an incredible feeling when you trust your scene partner implicitly and know that he or she has your back, no matter what happens.

Q: I saw a resume of yours that lists some interesting special skills, including juggling. Why juggling?

A: A lot of times, special skills become skills just because you're forced to do them for the first time in a show, and then they become habit. I had to learn how to juggle for a show I was in a long time ago, and it's still a skill that comes back to me. Juggling balls or beanbags, of course — we're not talking knives or bowling pins here.

Q: You also have a number of dialects in your repertoire. Any favorites?

A: Pittsburghese will always hold a special place in my heart. I can't tell you how many times in New York people know exactly where I'm from, just because of the way I still say certain things. I'd love to do a show in a full-out Pittsburgh dialect.

I'm still working on my Irish. You see a Kevin Daniel O'Leary in a room and you expect him to be a natural with an Irish accent; mine is abysmal. It's kind of embarrassing.

Q: What's the story behind the name “Cav?”

A: I'd been going by first, middle and last name all together for years when I decided it was too many letters and took too long to type my email address (sometimes I lose patience with the little things). It was recommended to me to change it to something shorter, catchier. My good friend, Daina, who I work with often at St. Vincent, brainstormed with me at length and we decided on “Cav,” because it's close to Kevin, rolls off the tongue and has an old-Hollywood kind of quality to it.

When I said, “But Cav isn't a real name,” Daina's response was, “You can commiserate with Liv Tyler.” And Cav was born.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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