GFO's revival production of Grease begins previews next week at QPAC's Lyric Theatre and we at AussieTheatre wanted to get to know the cast before the show commences its run!
Today we chat with newcomer Eli Cooper who will be starring as Rydell High School's resident intellectual gentleman, Eugene! Grease marks Eli's professional musical theatre debut…
What do you think it is about Grease that people love so much?
I'm not sure what makes Grease so loved by so many people, but personally I love that the show does have so much appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. To find a piece that connects to people who know a great deal about theatre and to those who know very little is really pretty rare, but what's not to love?
Tell us about your character – Eugene
Eugene is an incredibly intellectual person, but has little understanding of how to conduct himself in social situations. He is just that little bit awkward and uncomfortable and struggles to find his place, but he has a heart of gold, and I think he is pretty endearing.
What is your favourite song in the show?
My favorite song from the show is Beauty School Dropout! I can't help but sing along whenever I hear it!
When you were at high school were you cool enough to be a T-Bird?
I think I was cool enough to be a T-bird when I was in high school, but I'm certain everyone I actually went to high school with wouldn't agree with me!
What is the most challenging thing about this show?
The most challenging thing I've found about Grease is not being a mirror image of what we already know so well, especially the film because it is so good, or putting your character into a stereotype. That and finding time to breathe and think about what's coming next in the Handjive.
What is the best thing about the performing arts community in Australia?
The thing I'm finding best about Australia's performing community is how welcoming everyone is and how much help everyone is willing to give you. This is my first time performing professionally in Australia, so I was (and definitely still am) extremely nervous, but it's so comforting to have a cast and crew who have your back one hundred percent.
What advice would you give to other performers starting out in the industry!
I am only just starting out myself, so I'm sure I have no advice worth hearing! What I would suggest is to listen to the advice of the people who have been doing this for so long. I try to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet in this business, and thats when I get really insightful tips!
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on stage?
I have had a pretty good embarrassment free run on stage in my short time. However I have once, while standing front centre of a tuxedoed line of dancers, very obviously vomited into my hands, which were unfortunately at that time covered by white dinner gloves. I can’t even look at chili con carne anymore.
If you weren't treading the boards in Grease, what would you be doing?
If I weren't currently rehearsing Grease, I'd be in that audition room with all my mates yet again, going hard for whatever job it was, doing anything to get myself back up on that stage. It's nice to have a little bit of weight lifted off my shoulders… for now anyway!
Do you have any dream roles?
I don't have any dream roles really. I'd just like to work as much and as hard as I possibly can. Though I definitely have a bucket list of shows, so hopefully I'll cross off a few before my legs finally punish me for what I've put them through!
Grease will be playing at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC from 20 August. Visit greaseistheword.com.au for more details!