Amanda Jane Cooper

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Amanda Jane Cooper

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, July 7, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Amanda Jane Cooper

From now on, when I think of Amanda Jane Cooper, I’ll think of what a successful performer should look like. She was so comfortable and confident on stage, and she had her material so incomprehensibly well prepared that it puts many Broadway stars who have appeared on stages at Birdland or Feinstein’s/54 Below in a different category altogether. While at times her tone became serious, it’s plain to see that it’s Cooper’s playful nature that should be taken seriously. One of the longest running Glinda’s in Wicked, Cooper told the story behind that role on tour and on Broadway while she entertained us with she entirely different styles of music.

One of her best performances of the evening was definitely on “My Party Dress” (Brian Lowdermilk/Kait Kerrigan) from Henry and Mudge. Lyrics like “Do you like my party dress?” may not seem to jump off the page, but with Cooper’s acting, this song transformed into something like an evolutionary step from “Ladies Who Lunch” (not sung in this show). When she sang that she did a turn, Cooper did a turn, without missing a beat.

She performed the entire song as if she were a five-year-old girl and was so entertainingly and endearingly in character that it seemed she could accomplish anything on stage that she might want to.

That song was part of the representation of Cooper’s childhood, so the playful tone made sense. When it came to growing up and emerging as a performer, Cooper adopted a very different tone with “I Want to Go to Hollywood” (Robert Wright/George Forrest/ Maury Yeston) or “I See the Lake” (Mary Liz McNamara). However, surprisingly—especially to me; I don’t usually care too much for medleys—her performance of a mashup of “Over the Rainbow” (E.Y. Harburg/Harold Arlen; Wizard of Oz) and “Thank Goodness” (Stephen Schwartz; Wicked), really captured that adulthood transition. There were both the listless dreamer and the woman who would capture audiences’ imaginations in that land of Oz in which both songs are set.

Cooper was aided by talented MD and pianist Dan Micciche, who ollaborated with her to create a second and even more impressive medley, called “TheBaeSeries Medley.” Cooper created a series about an invisible boyfriend on social media called “TheBaeSeries.” Here she pokes fun at herself for not having a boyfriend by imagining the perfect boyfriend, who is invisible to everyone but her. To make fun of the series as well as to incorporate it into the show Micciche and Cooper devised a thrilling song selection to serenade an invisible man on stage, whose actions Cooper narrated to the audience by telling him to “move here” or to “stand there” or to “dance with me.” Funny, clever, and smooth, the song combined the lines “You’ve got me feeling emotions” with “Your love is like a river” and offered the opportunity for Cooper’s guest stars to share her stage. Emily Koch joined her to perform “Hey Ho” (Jeremy Fraites/Wesley Schultz), and when Cooper tried to convince Koch about the existence of her boyfriend, she launched into song. This in turn led to the appearance of the latest Glinda, Ginna Claire Mason, as the voice of reason, singing a slightly edited version of “That’s How You Know” (Alan Menken/Schwartz) about how Cooper would really know her boyfriend loves her.

Ultimately, it was Cooper’s night, and she shined brightest of all. It would have been a true pleasure to see her perform in Wicked as she seemed to create what her character in that show exemplified.