Tamarie Cooper is putting the finishing touches on her lastest show, DOOMSDAY REVUE: (the greatest musical ever!), which The Catastrophic Theatre is producing at Diverseworks Art Space. Calling me from her friend’s costume shop, she spent some time chatting with me about her new show and life as both a writer and a creator of musical theatre.
Your original shows have gained a cult-like following in Houston. What can fans expect in the upcoming Tamarie Cooper Show DOOMSDAY REVUE: (the greatest musical ever!)?
There’s always somewhat of a formula. Each show has a bit of a vaudevillian element to it. They’re all based on my thoughts, which are transformed into a musical and reenacted by many—this time by 18 people. I come up with a theme every year. In this show, there is some of what you can expect when you deal with doomsday, but it’s not all Mayans and The Illuminati. There’s a whole section reenacting a horribly humiliating night from high school because when you’re a teenager every night is the end of the world. (Laughs) As always, there is more hilarity, more self-depreciation, and good songs.
Do you have any warnings or words-of-the-wise for patrons who will be experiencing one of your shows for the first time?
No warnings—absolutely not! There will always be those people who will boast that it’s their tenth Tamarie show, but you don't have to have seen the others to enjoy this one. New people are always welcome. And, there is no deep or complex plot that you need to be briefed in beforehand.
What was the inspiration for DOOMSDAY REVUE: (the greatest musical ever!)?
Typically, as soon as I open one of my shows, immediately the question comes to mind, “what am I going to do next year?” My writing partner, PatRick Reynolds, and I joked around backstage at the opening of last summer’s show and came up with the Doomsday theme. We started riffing and brining up great ideas. Sometimes, it’s not that easy, but we were pretty locked in on going ahead with this theme. Sometimes while creating and watching South Park or 30 Rock, we'd see something and say, “That’s my idea!” This is a pretty important topic right now, and luckily we have found a way to veer from the complete obvious with DOOMSDAY and provide more unique angles.
What is your writing process like? Do you have any unique rituals when you’re writing?
It’s not your typical writing process in that I have a writing partner (PatRick Reynolds). I basically storyboard every scene and he comes back through with me and comes up with dialogue. Then I edit and revise. He is living in Europe this year, but luckily with the magic of technology, Skype, and good cell phone plans, we have been able to work as if he is still living in town (Houston). Then, I have original music and there are friends of mine who are composers and musicians too. They help with writing all the original songs. But, there was one point where Patrick was in town while we were writing and we were both staring into our laptops with furrowed brows screaming “Naaa! Naaaa!” And, one friend said, “Wow, this is where the creative genius comes in!” (Laughs)
Do you have any advice for people who are writing their own pieces of musical theatre?
I have often found that some of my most successful moments and pieces in my shows are the ones drawn from my own life experiences. It’s cathartic too, Instead of paying a therapist, you get to work through these experiences in song and dance, and other people are paying to see it. (Laughs) You know, they say it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to write a musical too!
Do you have any advice for aspiring theatrical performers?
I’m in Houston, and I have heard comments over the years like “Why don’t you go to New York.” You don't have to go to New York or LA to be a successful performer. I’ve been lucky that Houston has been accepting of my talent. There are fewer fish in this sea. And, if you create something good and find people you want to work with, then with that “if you build it they will come” sort of thing, people will come. I must acknowledge that with Houston I have been very fortunate.