The Last Five Years
Cassie Okenka does Cathy with a great charm and a strong, clear ingenue voice.
—Jim Cavener, Asheville Times
Cassie Okenka and Austin Owens bring tremendous vocal ability, strong acting skills, and abundant wit to the downtown theatre with its more intimate space. The Opening Number, “I’m still hurting”, sung by Cathy, is a heart-breaking lament, beautifully sung, that establishes the intriguing plot device as well as Okenka’s strength as an actor and singer.
—Katie Winkler, Blue Ridge Now.
Glinda the Good matches her vocally and dazzles the audience with charm. And that may be the bigger story.
Understudy Cassie Okenka rose from the ensemble to don Glinda’s blond locks, pink frocks and sunnily self-absorbed personality when co-star Patti Murin was sidelined with the flu Thursday. From her glittering first notes through every step of an assured performance, Okenka more than gave the audience its money’s worth at the latest show in SHN’s season.
Glinda still has the best songs, and Okenka makes them her own – no small feat given how firmly Kristin Chenoweth stamped her personality on the role – warbling “Popular” and other numbers with ingratiating ease.
Still, Thursday’s show belonged to the understudy whose opening line is, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” The answer is an unqualified, yes.
—Robert Hurwitt is The San Francisco Chronicle’s theater critic
Her performance sparkles. Okenka finds just the right amount of lovable ditziness in the role (“The artichoke is steamed!”), insisting early her name be pronounced “Ga-linda,” and winning us over for good with her outstanding rendition of “Popular.”
—CLINTON STARK Starkinsider.com
On opening night, understudy Cassie Okenka (filling in for Patti Murin) played her with the perfect, sweet touch of humor.
—Leslie Katz SF Examiner Arts Editor
On opening night, the role of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, was sung by Cassie Okenka, arguably the most skilled understudy since Barbra Streisand exploded onstage in “Funny Girl.”
Replacing the flu-ravaged Patti Murin, Okenka was no slouch in the comedy department, either.
Her enchanting scratchy voice is akin to that of Kristin Chenoweth (who’d blossomed here in the pre-Broadway version and then went to New York wearing full star skin), and her outrageously manic body movements kept the entertainment moving as fast and exciting as magical white river rapids.
—WOODY WEINGARTEN http://forallevents.info
“Ga-linda” — you will quickly find out there’s a “Ga” in front and she wants everyone to know it — is a rich, bubbly personality played Thursday by the amazing vocal talent and understudy, Cassie Okenka.
—By Chris Riley San Jose Mercury News
Roscioli’s costar at the performance reviewed was understudy Cassie Okenka, giving so dazzling and finely-tuned a performance that it seems incredible that she has not been playing the role eight performances a week for months on end. I’ve seen five other Galindas over the past nine years, and Okenka’s is as sensational as it gets, and never more than in her infectiously gleeful “Popular.” Like Roscioli, Okenka’s work grows in depth as Galinda matures into the woman she is to become, and when she and her enemy-turned-bff duet “For Good” … well, I’m tearing up right now just remembering it.
—Steven Stanley’s Stagescene LA
The original Glinda, Patti Murin, was out with the flu Thursday, leaving an opportunity for understudy Cassie Okenka to step in heroically as the profoundly perky good witch full of authoritatively pronounced malapropisms. If this is how she performs at a moment’s notice, we’d like to see much more of this capable young actress.
Okenka possesses a clarion, light-opera voice (a signature for the part, created by Kristin Chenoweth), and she’s in complete control of her astounding instrument. It’s her voice we hear cutting through ensemble scenes, and yet she’s no diva. She makes sarcastic little swoops and deadpan drops, letting go of the golden notes when it’s time to get laughs, especially in her Act 1 showcase, “Popular,” a gleeful makeover of the reluctant Elphaba.
—ANNE VALDESPINO / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
However proving Mantello has brought together a great cast is the performance by Cassie Okenka who stepped into the bubble to play Glinda. I was quite astounded by how confident a presence, poised performance, stunning depiction and astonishing voice Cassie brought to the stage. It truly is a credit to this entire cast.
— Marc Larrañaga socal thrills
Cassie Okenka, who played Glinda the Good, also gave a hypnotizing performance. Her quirky musical numbers and dainty hair flips played well off of her stern and more serious counterpart. Her bubbly personality was the personification of charm, charisma and everything magical about Oz.
—Michelle Sandoval EDGE Contributor LA
After opening the show in Costa Mesa only the night before, the question regarding the integrity of the show fell onto the shoulders of her understudy, Cassie Okenka.
To say that Okenka “played” the role of Glinda the Good Witch would be an understatement. For the evening, draped in glittering jewels, Okenka was Glinda, elevating the role of a good witch to an absolutely great one.
Starting out slowly, it was clear from the start that her theatricality was on point, but her introductory song did not initially show her true range. Concerning at first, Okenka’s strong lower register echoed notes of an Alto, but once she was warmed up, her powerful Soprano high notes filled the Segerstrom theater.
Overall, the quality of the show surpassed expectations, with the highlight being the pleasant surprise of Okenka and the amazing production put together by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and it’s truly a sight to be seen.
—Ryan Wallace New University
Cassie Okenka into the spotlight at Thursday’s opening performance. And Okenka is luminous as the gorgeous goddess (think Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde”) who takes time from her self-worship to help the ostracized Elphaba become “Popular.”
—Tom TitusDaily Pilot
Cassie Okenka was a charming and charismatic Glinda.
—Lisa Birle Locale Magazine
As Galinda, the deceptively beautiful and thoroughly egocentric teen who will go on to become the bubble-wrapped Glinda the Good, Cassie Okenka was pure delight. So blissfully un-self-aware that her monomania had a certain charm, Okenka’s Galinda was like every self-absorbed teenager who expects everyone to love her just as much as she loves herself – and most do. Watching Okenka “make-over” her new friend in the hilarious number “Popular,” one can’t help but finding infectious her thorough delight with her handiwork and her genuine wish to share her own fabulousness with her new friend.
—SUSAN SEGAL coast magazine
“It was really good–Glinda (played at this performance by Cassie Okenka) was perfect, she was funny and bubbly, but not so much that you didn’t feel sympathy for her,
—Christopher Trela and Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy
The Wizard Of Oz Quotes
Cassie Okenka (late of MTV’s “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods”) is a charming Dorothy
—FRANK SCHECK NY Post
Naturally, though, much of the show’s success rests on Okenka’s shoulders. While her rendition of “Over the Rainbow” is rather undistinguished, she is as plucky and determined as one could wish for. Even a hard-hearted grown-up is likely to surrender to her charms
—Brian Scott Lipton Theatremania
Standing out in this OZ-tastical extravaganza are Cassie Okenka, as our dear sweet Dorothy Gale. She is charming and engaging in this classic role.
—Venus Zarris Chicago Stage Review
Cassie Okenka’s Dorothy is perfect from start to finish, performing with zeal and musical poise.
—D. A. Blackburn encore michigan
Grown-ups may also appreciate that Cassie Okenka, who when delivering Dorothy’s dialogue sounds exactly like Judy Garland, doesn’t go for impersonation when it matters most. Singing “Over the Rainbow,” she is content to be herself rather than to compete with the classic, and “herself” is just fine.
—NEIL GENZLINGER New York Times