Cassel left Jamaica with his family to move to Canada on his seventh birthday. It was 1971 and there was a lot to get used to in the “new” world. One of the new things available in the new world was ice hockey. and he loved it. Bobby Orr became his hero. Unexpectedly, there developed a fascination with tap dancing thanks to watching Arthur Duncan from The Lawrence Welk Show. At the age of nine he began taking tap dancing lessons.
When he started high school, hockey and tap dancing gave way to track and field, particularly, the hurdles. Like tap dancing, there was a rhythm to the cadence of running the hurdles. When he hit the right groove, the movement just flowed. His hero was Renaldo Nehemiah.
The year after being undefeated and breaking records in track and field, he watched the movie Fame, and found a new hero in the character of ‘Leroy’, Gene Anthony Ray, and all he wanted to do was to dance. And he did so on scholarships in Toronto and in New York City, in Canada’s Wonderland’s Best of Broadway, and in dance companies such as Judith Marcuse’s Repertory Dance Company of Canada, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, and The National Tap Dance Company of Canada.
He, later, branched out into musical theatre shows such as A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, and Sophisticated Ladies and in the Shaw Festival’s On the Town and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the Stratford Festival’s Kiss Me Kate. Then came Canadian Stage’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika and, thereafter, the opportunity to play ‘Mr. Bojangles’ in the U.S. national tour of Fosse directed by Ann Reinking.
In 2004 he became aware of the story of Josiah Henson. Moving to the Kingston, Ontario area in 2014, he met Charles Robertson. In collaboration with Charles, Cassel has created a one-person play, Josiah Henson: From Slave to Saviour, about the life of Josiah Henson. Cassel hopes that the triumphant life story of this quintessential hero Josiah Henson will inspire others, young and old, as it has touched and inspired him.