Preview: Tamarie’s Totally True Revue (plus lies too!) with Catastrophic Theatre

It's time for Tamarie Cooper's special summer show once again. Photo by T Lavois Thiebaud
It’s time for Tamarie Cooper’s special summer show once again. Photo by T Lavois Thiebaud

If you’re one of the people wondering what attending Tamarie’s Totally True Revue (plus lies too!) would be like, Tamarie Cooper’s instructions to new cast members should give you a pretty good idea.

“You basically just tell them to check their inhibitions at the door. That the whole process is like a summer camp for grownups. We get real goofy. We still have to work really hard but there’s a lot of freedom and a lot of jokes and a lot of opportunity to contribute as well, improv. And that you just have to completely put yourself out there. If you’re hesitant you’re going to actually stand out and not in a good way because everyone else on the stage is a full-on ass clown basically.”


In what has become an annual event put on by Catastrophic Theatre, Cooper and her writing partner Patrick Reynolds (“Sometimes I feel like he lives inside my brain”) have come up with another satirical musical that while maintaining many of the mainstay elements from years past, continues to grow, she says.

“There is somewhat of a comedic formula and there is always some truth in that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. So we do lean in and play up to some of the expectations of my longtime fans and audeinces that do love to see those moments for example between me and longtime Catastrophic and IBP [Infernal Bridgegroom Productions] artist Kyle Sturdivant where we have a sort of Carol Burnett/Harvey Korman relationship on stage.”

While long time fans of the summer productions may get that extra inside joke, first timers can rest assured they’ll understand what’s going on and laugh at it, even with the darker parts included, she says.

That’s because Cooper’s summer musicals rely in part on her own experiences which she sees as fairly universal to the human condition. “Indeed one of the numbers this year is directly from an incident from last summer right after the show closed that I did call Kyle on the phone and said ‘Oh my God, you’re not going to believe this story. And it was like, ‘Okay, well this is going to make it into the show, isn’t it.'”

“I get up there and humiliate myself and tell these stories of ridiculous situations and people often can relate to them. I’ve in the past had a parade of ex-boyfriends. and I had many people come up after the show and said ‘How did you know? I dated the same people.’ Or last year I did a whole piece about my family and our obsessive history with certain egg rolls from a certain restaurant in Chicago. And I had people again after the show going ‘Well my family are obsessed with these kolaches three states over we’ve got to try.’ So there’s always an entryway,”

Because of this, Cooper feels her musicals, complete with live band once again, have a universal appeal.

“I don’t think that all of this is definitely only through the limited lens of a middle-aged, white, married, non-religious but Jewish by culture identity woman. If it’s things about high school and being popular. If it’s things about the way we look when we present ourselves or embarrassing situations, a lot of it is more universal.”

Asked if she was popular in high school, Cooper responds “Yeah, I ws pretty popular in high school but I went to a high school with weirdos. It was the High School for Performing and Visual Arts so there weren’t a lot of unpopular people I would say.”

“I used to be a little bit more conservative. I remember a time when I first began these shows where the use of profanity I would not permit it. And now there have been songs with profanity in the title. Profanity is now part of our modern vernacular so we’ve grown more smutty along with the rest of the world.

“One thing too that has helped us to really just focus on true stories, thoughts and opinions as opposed to try to create characters that are not myself, that go on a more traditional musical theater journey. In that way I have embraced more of the variety show component.

“I think the writing this year is especially funny. It’s just very non-stop, really sharp comedy,” she says.

“It’s a juggernaut now that I’m very proud of and I do like the fact that this will be part of a legacy I’ll leave behind. I like to bring joy and mirth to my city.”

Performances are scheduled for June 23 through August 5 at 7:30 p.m. at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at the MATCH, 3400 Main. For more information, call 713-521-4533 or visit Pay what you can.