While Norm Lewis stars as "The Phantom" on Broadway, "Call Me Adam" decided to take a road trip to chat with Cooper Grodin, who is playing "The Phantom" in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. We unmasked Cooper to discuss what it is like to play this iconic role around the country.
1. You are currently starring as "The Phantom" on the 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. This iconic role has been played by numerous actors. How are you putting your own spin on this classic role? I suppose I don't think I'm putting a spin on it. I have a script, a director and my instincts. We try to tell an honest story with distinctly strong choices.
2. What do you identify most with, about "The Phantom"? That he is a composer and that he is passionate about music.
3. This 25th Anniversary National Tour has new scenic design, new choreography, new staging, but still boasting the original costume design. How do you feel these additions breathe a new life into this classic show? Because they are, in fact, all new, it's a chance to revisit legendary material with new eyes and technology of today. The chandelier, fire and automations are all very current.
4. What excites you most about being on this special 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera? Getting to embody this iconic role. I would like to come back to it over and over again as I grow as an artist.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this new National Tour? I hope they are entertained, moved and leave with questions about relationships and the choices we make in life.
7. What is your favorite part of the show to perform (if you can even choose one)? The final lair scene. There is an immense amount of energy flying around the three of us. The action is always spontaneous and honest.
8. If you saw Phantom of the Opera growing up, what is it like to now be on the flip side and performing in the show? Is it as magical as you remember or even more so because now you are more part of the magic? When I saw the show I knew the role would someday be a great one for me to play, that I am actually doing it – that’s a dream.
9. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I suppose I'm still, and always will be working towards becoming the best actor I can be. I don’t know that any one thing inspired me, it seems to have just evolved out of my musicianship but I must admit, when I saw Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire, I thought, now that's something.
10. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Michael Fassbender, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, too many to list all.
11. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor? As I delve further into the craft of acting I find that the rules of great acting, which are to say, behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances, are the same rules that you apply to living a great existence. To simply respond, to get out of your head by getting the attention on the other person.
12. What's the best advice you've ever received? If you think you'll succeed or fail, your right. No one can make you feel anything. Who ever is in front of you is your teacher. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."
13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Basketball, swimming, weights. But I'm always looking for fun new ways to do fitness. My cast mates are currently getting me into racquetball.
14. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying.
16. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Red or Cherry.
17. How do you want to be remembered? When they think of me, let them smile.
Cooper was born and raised on the isle of Manhattan where he attended LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and Performing Arts. Cooper earned his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and received his Masters in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He is an avid singer of all genres and an accomplished pianist and composer. He has performed in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Misérables (Combeferre), Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince) at NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park, Grease (Danny), Les Misérables (Javert), A Little Night Music (The Count), Joseph… (Pharoah), Carousel (Billy) at Chicago’s Light Opera Works, Parade (Governor Slaton), Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik) and The Fantasticks (El Gallo). Cooper has sung numerous concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic and The American Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed in the New York premiere of Grendel at City Opera directed by Julie Taymor, and Zaide as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival directed by Peter Sellars. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum. He can been seen in such films as Music and Lyrics and Salt. He was awarded a Lys Syonette Award for "Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number" in the Lotte Lenya/Kurt Weill competition. His new original album It’s The Little Things is now available on iTunes. Cooper would like to honor all the wonderful people in his life by dedicating his performances to them, especially his beautiful parents, Tara Rubin, Merri Sugarman, and Laurence O'Connor his teachers, coaches, and About Artists Agency for their belief in him and their continued love and support.