Checking In With… Tony Nominee Lilli Cooper, Star of Tootsie, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spring Awakening

Interview   Checking In With… Tony Nominee Lilli Cooper, Star of Tootsie, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spring Awakening
 
The Broadway favorite will make her solo New York cabaret debut later this month at Feinstein's/54 Below.
Lilli Cooper
Lilli Cooper

As Broadway begins to reopen its theatres, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.

The series continues with Lilli Cooper, a Tony nominee for her performance in Tootsie whose Broadway credits also include SpongeBob SquarePants, Wicked, and the original cast of Spring Awakening. The actor was also seen in the City Center Encores! staging of Mack and Mabel as well as the Off-Broadway productions of Tick, Tick...BOOM!, Sundown, Yellow Moon, The Wildness, and The Threepenny Opera. Cooper's screen credits include Dynasty, NCIS: New Orleans, Bull, Instinct, Elementary, The Code, and The Good Fight.

The Broadway favorite will also make her solo Feinstein's/54 Below debut July 28 and August 15 at 7 PM in an evening titled All the Feels. Click here for ticket information.

Checking In With… On Your Feet! Star Mauricio Martínez

Tootsie_Broadway_Production Photos_2019_X_HR
Lilly Cooper and Cast Matthew Murphy

What is your typical day like now?
There's no such thing as a typical day nowadays! But every day definitely consists of a few good dog walks with my two buddies Cosmo and Dublin. I'm seven months pregnant, which definitely makes my days feel different than normal. But nowadays I'm working on my concert rep, trying to squeeze a workout in, and looking forward to dinner with my husband.

What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Lupin on Netflix! Ted Lasso on Apple TV+! and Hacks on HBO! I love lotsa podcasts these days; Criminal, The Daily, and LeVar Burton Reads are my top three.

During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
I want creators of theatre to be aware that representation is not only stage deep. It should start from the ground up; from interns and assistants to executives and theatre owners. We need a system in place where it is possible for marginalized, underrepresented, and minority groups to climb to positions of power without having to jump through hoops.

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Lilli Cooper and Ethan Slater Joan Marcus

What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Know that you are not alone. Isolation can be inspiring for some and crippling for others. I suggest taking a break from social media if it's something that feels discouraging and suppressive. Meditation and mindfulness have really helped me over this past year, to accept the silence and learn to live with my own thoughts.

How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I feel very lucky because I'm working on a reading of a new musical, in person! Being in a space with other artists, hearing voices and laughs, and getting inspired is such food for the soul. After 16 months away from a rehearsal studio, this has been such a welcome gift.

Also, I'm working on a very exciting project that I'm extremely proud of called the Places Please Project. Our goal is to give away $500,000 in rental relief to theatre workers who have been displaced because of the pandemic. The fund is intended for theatre workers who reside in the five boroughs of New York City, as well as theatre workers who did reside in NYC before the pandemic and now intend to return. All categories of theatre workers are included: artists, designers, musicians, technical, and administrative employees. Check out our mission at PlacesPleaseProject.com.

Lilli Cooper (center) in <i>Spring Awakening</i>
Lilli Cooper (center) in Spring Awakening Photo by Joan Marcus

How do you feel about returning to live performance?
I can't wait! There is nothing like the feeling you get from a live audience, and I can't wait to feel that again. I'm also nervous! I have my first-ever solo show coming up at 54 Below, and after a year plus of not performing, it's a scary, but thrilling thing to throw yourself back into it.

What would you say to audience members who may be feeling uneasy about returning to a theatre?
I have faith that theatres will enforce protocols that will make you feel as safe as possible returning to the theatre. I'm really grateful that 54 Below is requiring proof of vaccine. I saw my first show back there a few weeks ago, and I felt safe knowing I was in a room full of vaccinated people.

What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Planned Parenthood, Trans Equality, HealthWell Foundation, and Clean Air Task Force.

Checking In With… A Strange Loop Star Larry Owens

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