Chief Executive Director
Nicole Cassesso is a professional Actor, Singer, Dancer, and Producer. She developed a lifelong passion and love for the arts at a very early age, taking the stage for the first time at three-years-old and never looking back.
In 2017, Cassesso became the 88th recipient of the Los Angeles Times “Woman of the Year” Award for her immense contributions to theater as an actor and producer.
She has received critical acclaim for her work on stage. Most notably in the title roles as Violet in Violet, Gypsy Rose Lee/Louise in Gypsy and Patsy Cline in Always Patsy Cline, for which she received 2017 and 2018 Broadway World Nominations. She was also named Best Actress by the OC Tribune for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
Other prominent roles include Alice in Bright Star, Velma in Chicago, Luisa in Nine, Amy in Company, Oolie/Donna in City of Angels, Holly in The Wedding Singer, Gertrude in Seussical, Olive in Bullets Over Broadway, Sally Brown in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, Mona Kent in Dames At Sea, Diana Morales in A Chorus Line, Shelby in Steel Magnolias, Gloria in Damn Yankees, Logainne in Spelling Bee, Patty Simcox in Grease and Cinderella in Into The Woods. She can also be seen as the lead in the award-winning Scenarios USA/Showtime short, "Lipstick" directed by Academy Award winner, Michael Apted (Nell, Gorillas in the Midst, The Coal Miners Daughter) and the web series, “The Uninfected” (www.theuninfected.com).
You can also catch Nicole and Damien starring on the popular YouTube series “Cocktail Hour at The GEM” (Cocktail Hour), which has aired 34 episodes and counting!
Cassesso has studied voice, acting, and dance and trained at many prominent institutions including South Coast Repertory, Saddleback College and Broadway Dance Center. She has trained with renowned commercial and theatrical coaches Stuart K. Robinson and David Cady, as well as with Jill Goodsell at The Grande-Goodsell Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Nicole also earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications with an emphasis in Entertainment Studies from California State University Fullerton.
Off stage, Cassesso works behind the scenes as Chief Executive Director for One More Productions. In 2004, she co-founded One More Productions with Damien Lorton in the hope of creating and producing quality theater at a professional level and an affordable cost, making the arts accessible for everyone in the community. In 2008, One More Productions embraced the City of Garden Grove and the historic GEM Theater as its permanent home.
With Cassesso at the helm, One More Productions has produced over 100 fully staged musicals, plays, new works and special events including co-creating and co-writing the audience favorite, The Holiday Gem. The company has become one of Southern California’s most critically acclaimed theaters and was named one of the Top 5 by The Orange County Register in 2014, alongside South Coast Repertory and OCPAC. One More Productions has also helped to raise over $200,000 for other non-profit and community organizations such as The Speech and Language Development Center, The Rotary Club and The Garden Grove Community Foundation by hosting events and fundraisers for the organization’s various philanthropic causes.
For her service to the community, Cassesso has been honored with the ‘Paul Harris Fellow’ Award, the ‘St. James Family Honors’ Award and has been recognized by The City of Garden Grove in appreciation of contributions made to the community.
Outside of the theater, Cassesso spends much of her time at Physica, Inc. in Irvine, where she has turned her passion as a lifelong athlete and nutrition enthusiast into work as a personal trainer and physical therapy assistant. She has partnered with WBFF Pro, Nick Upton to create SHREDD SOCIETY (@shreddsociety), a new fitness community where personal goals and talents can be embraced and shared in and out of the gym. SHREDD SOCIETY offers Personal Training, Personalized Nutrition Plans and Group Classes and more! (www.physicaoc.com) She also travels around the U.S. as an Event Producer and Caterer, working with companies such as Nike, Microsoft, Red Bull, L’Oréal and Habitat for Humanity.
In 2014, Cassesso joined the production team for the Oslo Freedom Forum as a Speaker Coach and Stage Manager. Run by the New York based Non-Profit, Human Rights Foundation, OFF is a series of international conferences bringing together the world’s most engaging human rights advocates, artists, tech entrepreneurs, and world leaders to meet and share their stories and brainstorm ways to expand freedom and unleash human potential across the globe. She has participated in events annually in Oslo, Norway, San Francisco, New York, and Miami. (www.oslofreedomforum.com)
Reviews and Mentions
“Simon and Cassesso are two of the brightest stars in the local theater galaxy and eminently qualified to receive the 87th and 88th man and woman of the year honors accorded by this publication since 1974.”
– Tom Titus, The Los Angeles Times
“Cassesso absolutely commands the stage, capturing the heart and soul of the legendary singer, showing her consummate ability to stir deep emotions within her listeners. Her Patsy is an easygoing yet resilient good ol’ gal utterly at ease within her own skin and so self-confident, she doesn’t need to force things – her charisma makes audiences come to her.”
– Eric Marchese, The Orange County Register
“She has already clearly established her considerable skills with the country genre in the Gem Theater fan-favorite “Always, Patsy Cline,” now, in “Bright Star,” Cassesso once again demonstrates her remarkable vocal range – this time, in the Bluegrass style – as well as her ability to offer the viewer an intense, soulful interpretation of character.”
– Thom deMartino, Orange Tribune
“In the title role, Nicole Cassesso is ebullient and thoroughly likeable—sensitive and charismatic which is so important for this particular story as it all unfolds entirely through her eyes. It is in the subtler moments though, when she doesn’t simply ‘shine’ onstage, she incandesces, providing deep insight into her character and into the human condition of the time as well.”
– Leo Buck, Bucking Trends
“One More's staging rides high on the one-two punch of Nicole Cassesso's tough, insolent Velma and Gretchen Dawson's willowy, redheaded, vixenish Roxie…The two actors feed off each other, providing different vibes of vibrant energy and blatant sexuality.”
- Eric Marchese, The Orange County Register
“In her own quieter, more subtle way, Nicole Cassesso gives Hansen a run for her money as Louise, transitioning quite stunningly from mousy wallflower Rose Louise Hovick to glamorous, self-assured headliner Gypsy Rose Lee.”
– Steven Stanley, Stage Scene LA
“Nicole Cassesso steals her every scene as Julia’s best friend Holly, a gum-chewing, hair-twirling material girl complete with Valley Girl diction and high-pitched squeals of delight.”
– Eric Marchese, The Orange County Register
“But Cassesso, as Sally Bowles, truly graces the show with her talents. Not only is it a matter of scintillating musical performances by her: but the nuanced, forced, deliberate naivete that she gives Bowles, speaks something deeper about the world today – and arguably, human nature, itself.”
– Thom deMartino, OC Tribune
“Whether it’s honky-tonk, country, traditional pop, gospel, rockabilly or swing, Cassesso’s expressive bold contralto and the rich timbre of her vocals mimic the music icon so flawlessly that fans old and new will unknowingly fall under her spell.”
– Angela Hatcher, Orange County News