TAMARIE COOPER GIVES US A LOOK INSIDE HER BRAIN
Catastrophic Theatre’s associate director Tamarie Cooper is back at it, concocting another summer musical extravaganza. Her newest opus, The Tamarie Cooper Show: Journey to the Center of my Brain (In 3D!), plumbs the depth of her gray matter. It’s a big and complicated place, so she’s enlisted the help of a small army of actors, composers and musicians. Cooper gives us a sneak peek inside her musical making brain.
29-95: What’s in that noggin’ of yours? Any surprises?
Tamarie Cooper: Not for me, it’s my head. The audience can expect brain farts, neurotransmitters, a signing and dancing super ego and endorphins, which are played by cheerleaders.
29-95: Why cheerleaders?
TC: My scientific knowledge is limited to 8th grade science and endorphins seemed like positive people who yell “yippee” while waving pom poms.
29-95: Any regulars in the cast?
TC: Several. Walt Zipprian, who has done a ton of shows with us, plays Dopamine. He’s dressed as a surfer along the lines of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused.
29-95: You don’t like typical musical theater types do you?
TC: No, we are a much more motley crew. It’s such a thrill to watch regular people burst into song and dance.
29-95: The show isn’t just about the brain, but also spends a good deal of its time on the psychology of mind.
TC: Yes, it quickly veers into self-discovery, especially love.
29-95: How so?
TC: Gilligan (from Gilligan’s Island) was my first crush, so there’s this rousing R & B number called “Sex me up Gillian.” Then the id ego and super ego show up as well.
29-95: People may not know that you are a former member of my tribe. Do you use these summer musicals as a way to reclaim your dancer life?
TC: Absolutely. I was a former bunhead, and then I discovered modern dance at HSPVA. Even though I wasn’t majoring in dance at UH, I spent most of my time in the dance department. I’m glad to hold on to those dance roots. Plus, I love choreographing for actors.
TC: Actors may not be so limber and technical, but they willingly throw themselves into things. I use a lot of pedestrian and pop culture movement so it works.
29-95: Is there a story in this piece?
TC: From the get-go I am looking for my one true self on the premise of a self-hypnosis made easy CD. It’s not linear but that’s what takes us muddling through this mess.
29-95: Any particular musical genre you are revisiting?
TC: This one runs the gamut; there’s standard musical theater numbers, hip-hop, and when the characters from Pride and Prejudice show up there’s some harpsichord action.
29-95: Is it not summer for you unless you are putting on a musical?
TC: You would think so. This is my 13th summer musical.
29-95: What’s the most amazing thing about your run so far as Houston’s reigning goddess of the wacky musical?
TC: That I have this group of designers, composers, actors and musicians willing to put in this work for me every year to create an original musical.
29-95: You are preggers, so technically there are two brains up there.
TC: True, but one is still forming.