Norman Mushari, the singing, suit-wearing, briefcase-swinging attorney in the musical God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, turns out not to be the kind of guy you’d want on your legal team.
Cameron Kubly, who’s playing Mushari (along with several other characters) in the current freeFall Theatre production (based on an early Kurt Vonnegut novel), is looking forward to a bright – and ethical – future in the law.
The Tampa-based, veteran musical theater performer is a third-year law student at Stetson University College of Law; he’s also the Editor-in-Chief of the Stetson Law Review.
With book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the team behind Little Shop of Horrors, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and others, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is the darkly comic tale of an eccentric philanthropist who takes it upon himself to “rescue” the residents of a small Indiana town.
For Kubly, who’s appeared in three previous freeFall shows, there are all-too-obvious parallels between a theater stage and a court of law.
“When you’re an advocate, especially in court, or in any setting where you’re representing a client, you are their storyteller,” he explains. “So you have to come at it from the angle and the facts they give you, within ethical boundaries, no matter what. It’s almost like they are providing your script, and your character background a little bit. And you are taking it from there.”
He’ll graduate in May, and take the Florida bar exam in June. “People say ‘Well, you must be a natural trial attorney,’ but it’s not a one-to-one ratio. Because you have to write your own material and, at the end of the day, you’re just playing yourself.
“There’s something very comforting for me as an actor about first of all being given material, but also being given this character to hide behind. That you don’t quite get in the law.”
With a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of South Florida, Kubly was an actor first, a law student second.
“I had always been interested in it,” he says. “I had started following politics really young. I followed what was going on in the Supreme Court, and that was around the time that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was becoming the pop icon that she was. So I kind of fell into an interest in it from that.”
Enter the year 2020 – March 13, to be exact. That was the day the curtain dropped on every theater in the country, because of Covid-19.
“In the face of theater shutting down, and realizing that it wasn’t going to be sustainable as a full-time gig that can support a life, I thought ‘Can I use a lot of these same skills, but give myself a little more stability?’”
This was the turning point. “I never was really considering the law until Covid. I was starting to think about what other kind of day job would I want? Because even before Covid, I was not going show to show to show and able to make enough money. But I was still young enough that I didn’t really care.”
Kubly hopes that he’ll be able to continue working in theater, part-time, once he’s established himself as an attorney.
What form that will take, he’s not entirely sure.
“After law school, I will be a judicial law clerk for two years – working basically as a staff attorney for a federal magistrate judge,” he explains. “That’s a very good springboard; you can kind of do anything from there because law firms or prosecutor’s offices really value that mentorship, and the experience you get from learning from a federal judge.
“That’s what I’m doing, and then just taking it from there.”
Directed by Eric Davis with musical direction by Michael Raabe, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater will run through March 10. Find all information, and tickets, on the freeFall Theatre website here.