Fil-Am actress Cassie Grilley shows her love for acting in ‘Gypsy’

Cassie Grilley | Photo by Anthony Chan

Tony Award-winning musical on striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee runs until Dec. 8

IT doesn’t come as a surprise that San Francisco native Cassie Grilley has loved acting.  Growing up, she watched musicals and even performed in her grandmother’s musical theater group, Young People’s Teen Musical Theater Company, which was founded in 1984.

Fast forward to the present, the Filipino American actress is shining onstage through numerous plays.

After being the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in Bay Area Musical’s production of “Hairspray,” Cassie is back in the supporting role of “Agnes” in the six-time Tony Award-winning musical, “Gypsy.”

“Gypsy” is loosely based on the 1957 memoir of famous striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee.  The story is about Rose, (who is Agnes’ friend Louise’s mother), and her dreams and efforts to raise two daughters as performers.

In an interview with, Cassie shared that playing Agnes is fun. 

“…It’s been fun with this character because it’s been open ended,” she said.  “She’s super quirky and it’s a fun character to play.  She’s like ‘I’m in a real live theater for the first time.’ It parallels a lot with my excitement for the theatre.”

Cassie also admits that the musical theater is definitely in her body since she was a baby.  And although her family is supportive of her career choice, her mother was initially apprehensive. 

“There’ll be times when she’ll be like ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ I think my mom felt a lot more comfortable because knowing my grandma and knowing how they are all artists and they’re still afloat and they’re still making money… Yeah, it’s definitely what I love to do. There are success stories. And she’s like, ‘Oh, I understand.’ I’m very aware of how lucky I am,” she said in an interview with

Of course, Cassie has faced challenges of being a bi-racial actress in an industry that is full of stereotypes.  Having a Filipino mom and a Caucasian dad, the young actress shared that her identity and appearance is something that she “is still working on.”  Whether playing the role of Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray” (where a patron said she wasn’t “white enough”), to the Asian production or “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” (where someone alluded that she wasn’t Asian); Cassie shared that she continues to audition for roles to play regardless of their ethnicity.

Playing the lead role of “Rose” is Ariela Morgenstern.  Others in the cast are Jade Shojaee, Tia Konsur, DC Scarpelli, Emma Berman, Chloe Fong, Jean-Paul Jones, Elaine Jennings, Olivia Cabrera, Glenna Murillo, Mark Robinson, Ernie Tovar, Amber Lee Wunderlich, Dakota Colussi, Kayla Yee, Juan Castro, Benjamin Nguyen, Phillip Leyva, April Deutschle, Veronica Ortiz and Teddybear Nguyen.

“Gypsy” is directed/choreographed by Matthew McCoy, with musical director Jon Gallo and is onstage until December 8 at Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary Street, San Francisco.  Music by Jule Styne, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Tickets range from $50-$1000 and may be purchased online at

Follow Cassie Grilley on Instagram @cassiewassie295. 

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