Stivers grad makes Broadway debut in ‘Play That Goes Wrong’

Dayton native and Stivers School for the Arts graduate Toccarra Cash is making her Broadway debut as stage manager Annie in the hit comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong.” CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Dayton native and Stivers School for the Arts graduate Toccarra Cash is making her Broadway debut as stage manager Annie in the hit comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong.” CONTRIBUTED

Dayton native and Stivers School for the Arts graduate Toccarra Cash is savoring every moment of her Broadway debut in the hit British comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong,” extending at New York’s Lyceum Theatre through Jan. 6.

>> Our favorite celebrity spottings in Dayton in 2018

In this wacky, Monty Python-esque play-within-a-play co-written by Mischief Theatre Company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, which received the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the 2017 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, Cash, 35, portrays Annie, a determined stage manager attempting to control the hilarious chaos behind the 1920s mystery “The Murder at Haversham Manor.”

“Annie isn’t very good at her job and she knows it but she forges along no matter what,” said Cash, a Spelman College alumna who received her M.F.A in Acting/Directing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Even if the worst thing in the world just happened, Annie finds a way to keep moving forward. She’s committed to making ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor’ work in spite of the (madness). And I feel that way sometimes. When things are falling apart around me, I’m going to see it through, especially if I committed to something. But the entire mission of this show is to make the audience laugh and forget their worries. This show is a delight. It brings people together which I feel we need at this time.”

>> The top 10 Daytonians of the Week of 2018

Having mostly appeared in dramas such as a regional production of “Skeleton Crew” at Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, the Off-Broadway productions of “Brothers from the Bottom” and “Napoli, Brooklyn,” and TV shows such as CBS’ “Blue Bloods” and USA’s “Royal Pains,” Cash admits “The Play That Goes Wrong” has been the most eye-opening comedic challenge of her career to date. Still, she’s grateful to have the opportunity to evolve as an actress by achieving the demands inherent to physical comedy and farce. In fact, she only had eight four-hour rehearsals to prepare for the role before joining the company three months ago.

“In terms of comedic timing and physicality, including doing my own stunts, this show has stretched me in indescribable ways,” she said. “Annie is a very physical, complicated role. And while I studied farce, clowning and masks in graduate school, all of those elements are coming together in this show in a way that hasn’t happened before. This show has been the blast of my career. I’m having an awesome time.”

So much of her present joy can be traced back to her time growing up in Dayton, particularly contributing to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical contest and performing in such Stivers productions as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Pippin,” “West Side Story,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” In addition to the support she received as a product of Shiloh Baptist Church, she says she treasured being a part of the Muse Machine, notably appearing in the 2000 production of “My Favorite Year.”

“Muse was wonderful and one of my most beloved experiences,” she stated. “Muse was so special because the organization made us feel like we were professionals. We were working with professional directors and choreographers and having the chance to perform at the Victoria Theatre was so amazing.”

Away from the footlights, Cash teaches low-income students in New York City and serves as a media literacy facilitator for HBO and a visiting teaching artist for the McCarter Theatre at Princeton University. She also provides empowering workshops for college-age women of color entitled “The Image Monster,” which seeks to address the dangers of social media in terms of self-esteem and self-worth.

Dayton native and Stivers School for the Arts graduate Toccarra Cash is making her Broadway debut as stage manager Annie in the hit comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong.” CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Dayton native and Stivers School for the Arts graduate Toccarra Cash is making her Broadway debut as stage manager Annie in the hit comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong.” CONTRIBUTED

“Through the use of improvisational drama exercises, interactive games and discussions, we celebrate and embrace a diverse and expansive definition of what it means to be beautiful,” she said. “‘The Image Monster’ is incredibly important to me. I’ve seen how social media has negatively affected women. My hope is that these young women walk away feeling seen and heard. There’s so much power in being able to connect with others in an authentic way. I don’t want these young women to feel alone. While social media’s calling card is to connect people, it can also be an isolating force, making us feel alone due to society’s unhealthy obsession with image and celebrity. While one workshop won’t change everything, I want young women to have at least gained one step toward a healthier self-image and sense of self-worth through real connectivity.”

Following its Broadway engagement, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which has been seen by over 1.5 million people around the world and is co-produced by Emmy winner J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Felicity,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) will transfer to Off-Broadway’s New World Stages beginning Feb. 11. Cash isn’t joining the Off-Broadway company, but is eager to begin her next production currently being finalized. She’s excited to see what the future holds and encourages others to follow their dreams while staying true to themselves.

“It’s important to embrace who you are,” she said. “We live in an era constantly telling you to be like this person or that person but just be you. Discover what makes you unique even though there will always be moments of self-doubt.”

You can follow Cash at her website (toccarracash.com) or on Instagram (@toccarracash).


ABOUT THIS FEATURE

Rooted in Ohio profiles interesting people who have grown up in or lived in Ohio and have gone to make a name for themselves around the country or the globe. If you know of someone worthy of being highlighted, then send an email to Life@coxinc.com and include “Rooted in Ohio idea” in the message subject line.

About the Author