Thursday, November 13, 2008
Take Your Blog Reader To Work Day: Cara Cooper
It's been quite a while since we did one of these. I believe the last one was Gwen's interview with Todd from Fafarazzi.
Anyway, the point of Take Your Blog Reader To Work Day is to bring you interviews with interesting, innovative, provocative, and sometimes unruly people out in the world living their dreams and being successful at it.
Today, please welcome Broadway performer Cara Cooper, who is currently traveling the country in the National Tour of Spamalot. Previously shows include the original Broadway casts of Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer, All Shook Up, and Urban Cowboy. Oh, and she also played my daughter in the Sparta High School production of Fiddler on the Roof a long, long time ago. LOL!
Amanda: Cara, thanks for joining Fictionistas today. One of our favorite themes here is following your dreams. How did you get started in your career?
Cara: Well, I guess I officially got my start in the performing arts when I was about a year old and I was cast in a "Huggies" commercial. When it came time to shoot, however, I had learned how to walk and wouldn't crawl for the spot like the director wanted...so I was fired, ha! I did bounce back and do several commercials after that, but as I got older, I got sick of going in and out of NY so I quit showbiz. Who knew that years later I would attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for musical theater and start all over again in the "biz" I was lucky enough to have an agent see me perform in a show in college and immediately start to freelance with me. I booked my first show before I graduated and actually left school a couple of weeks early (and finished my school work while I was rehearsing the show). So I didn't get to walk in my graduation, but that night I was performing in a production of "A Chorus Line" playing Val and living my dream.
Amanda: What has been your favorite role? Your favorite show?
Cara: Hmmmm...this is always a tough one. I have had the opportunity to play so many different parts and understudy even more, and each one means something different to me. I always learn something new about myself and my craft with every role I play. I don't know if I could choose. As far as favorite shows are concerned, it's the same story. That wasn't a very good answer was it? Sorry!
Amanda: What type of training is needed to make it on Broadway?
Cara: Everyone's road to Broadway is different so it is difficult to say. First and foremost though, you have to have a thick skin! You have to be willing to be rejected so many times before you get there. So perseverance is key. Of course, training is of the utmost importance as well. I spent so much of my youth dancing and that training has definitely been a huge factor in my Broadway career. Training in just dancing however, is not enough. You have to be a triple threat - a singer, a dancer, and most importantly an actor. You have to be able to tell stories through music, movement, and dialogue. And truly, the training never, ends. I am still taking classes, trying to better myself and my craft.
Amanda: What is a typical day like for you?
Cara: Well, right now, I am on the National Tour of Spamalot with my husband. My days are usually focused on working out, exploring whatever city it is that we are performing in and taking care of my dog, Lucy, taking her on walks and to the park. Around 5pm I try to sit for a bit and get a little rest before my "work day" begins. I get to the theater an hour before the show starts in order to get ready. In addition, I am an understudy in this show so once every two weeks I have a 4 hour rehearsal on a non matinee day, and when we are putting new people into the show, we will also have rehearsals then. After the show, my husband and I might watch a movie or get together with cast mates, but we try to go to bed at a decent hour which is hard to do because your adrenaline is running from performing. It sounds like a very leisurely life, but it takes alot of energy to do 8 shows a week so it is necessary to have the time to rest.
The difference when I am working on Broadway is that many of my days are also spent auditioning for new shows, so life gets alot more busy.
Amanda: Think back to good ol' Sparta High. Did you see yourself living a different life than you are now?
Cara: I definitely dreamt of being on Broadway, but I am not sure I fully understood what that meant. I am part of a truly tremendous community of artists and individuals and I feel so lucky for that. I also never dreamt that I would meet my future husband while doing a show, and that 6 years after we met we would be traveling the country together working in the same show and sharing a passion for what we do.
Amanda: If you could go back in time and tell TeenCara one really cool thing about her future, what would that be?
Cara: That she would perform on the Tony Awards! I always remember watching them with my family and just thinking that maybe someday I would get to do that, and I did!
Amanda: OK, fine. Now you're making me jealous. I always wanted to perform on the Tonys! Anyway, moving on. We talk about prom a lot on this blog, do you have a good prom story?
Cara: Hmmm...this is a tough one. I definitely loved the prom, getting dressed up and putting on makeup and everything. I am not sure that I have a good story about it....sorry.... again!
Amanda: Our signature interview question. You're stranded on a deserted island and your iPod only has 3 songs on it. What do you hope they are?
Cara: Oh geez! This is really tough. Well, they would have to be three really different songs...one would be "Electricity" from Billy Elliot the musical. I am obsessed with that show right now. The way Billy expresses what if feels like to dance really sums up the feelings that got me involved in the performing arts. Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides" would be a really great song to reflect on while stuck in the middle of the ocean. And the last spot would go to Jason Mraz's "The Remedy" to keep me from worrying about getting off the island!
Amanda: Do you have anything you want to plug?
Cara: I would just encourage everyone to support the arts!!!!! See a show at your community theater, a national tour, on Broadway, or put one on yourself!
Thanks for joining us, Cara! And since you refused to elaborate on prom, here's a picture of us from dance class 20 years ago...MWAHAHA!
(I'm second from the right on the front row, and Cara is two down from me -- the blonde in the middle.)