Becoming Brian

Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 4:42:00 pm

Brian Myers Cooper who brilliantly transforms into many diverse characters in ILYYPNC!  

 
I grew up on a farm in southeastern Ohio (the part of Ohio without a major city). It was a pretty idyllic setting – safe, secure and loving, with parents (now married 45 years) who instilled in me a sense of self-esteem, a sense of responsibility for my words, thoughts and deeds, and a great work ethic. I couldn’t have asked for a better preparation for life.

I was bitten early on in performances at church and school, so by the time I got to high school, I was fairly bursting at the seams to be a part of the spring musical. My freshman year came and they didn't have one - seems the director had moved away and the music teacher retired leaving no one willing to take up the reins of corralling 30-40 teenagers to put on a musical comedy. I was devastated, but the next year, the new music teacher stepped up to direct, and I was picked to play the lead in Bells Are Ringing, the alcoholic, acerbic, urbane and witty down-and-out writer character made famous in the movie version by Dean Martin. I was fifteen years old. I didn't understand ANY of it, but I was onstage and for the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted to do. 
 

Some of my favorite shows: I have fond memories of the National Tour of Miss Saigon and the wonderful family that company created out there on the road, and I've been fortunate to originate a couple of roles Off-Broadway as well as an American premiere of a wonderful play, The Cavalcaders by Irish playwright Bill Roche at Florida Stage, which stand out as  particularly proud accomplishments. But I'm still waiting to play Whizzer in Falsettos by William Finn - it's a great role that I'm just now growing into, type-wise.

 

Developing the multitude of characters for Man#2 in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! began several years ago when I did the role in a different production. I worked then to really ground these characters in their given situations and then let them live. Each scene is its own world with its own over-arching rule or theme, and it's our job to create believable people to live in that world - people the audience will recognize from their life, or family, or maybe themselves - and then the fun begins as we unspool the story of the scene. The work I did before came in handy as I joined this production just as the company was preparing for Opening Night, so my challenge was to adapt my characters to fit into the slightly different worlds that director Charles Repole had already created with this cast, and to do it from the sidelines as Travis (the male standby) rehearsed and performed the role with the cast. It was a wonderful challenge, and I have to thank Charlie, Victor Lukas (our stage manager), Christine DiTota (the ladies' standby) and especially Travis for helping me prepare to go on.
 

My favorite moment in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! is hands down the final scene, “Funerals are for Dating”. I love these characters, and my own character (Arthur Beasley) is really an amalgam of amazing men from my family and beyond who inspired me the first instant I read the scene. I took traits from all of them to create my Arthur, and I think of them all fondly every night as I play him. 

 

I have done a number of other creative endeavors between acting jobs, including authoring CD-ROM multi-media content for a reading program and supervising the staffs of about a hundred weddings. When I'm not on stage, you will most often find me at the Actors Equity building in NY serving the membership as an elected Councillor and Board member, coaching other actors, running through Central Park (just two blocks south of my apartment), or cooking anything and everything - I rarely eat out unless it's an occasion, and I love to create in the kitchen.

 

When you see me with my iPod earbuds in, I’m most likely listening to either an NPR podcast or a recorded book. I have loads of music and I love it, but I’m not big on having sounds around me all the time - the TV or radio - just as atmosphere.  So if I'm listening, I'm usually just catching up on the news or preparing for my next audition.

    

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