BRAIN DRAIN ENTERTAINS

3 Aug

TAMARIE_090609_0199-1

Another Summer With Tamarie!

Emily Dickinson begins one of her poems with the words, “I dropped my brain.” Good thing it wasn’t Tamarie Cooper’s brain, which is jammed, crammed, even manned, with everything from three matching Gilligans to an audience-humping id. There’s also a self-control with a drinking problem. And that’s just the first half.

It’s not really summer in Houston without a freshly cooked-up musical from Cooper. This year the Catastrophic Theatre has teamed with Stages Repertory Theatre to present The Tamarie Cooper Show, Journey to the Center of My Brain (in 3D!), which is bound to get you out of any and all summer funks. The premise is straightforward: Tamarie is preggers and needs to figure herself out before the arrival of Tamarie Jr. She gets some help from a late night purchase, “Self hypnosis made easy.” Unfortunately, the package arrives with only part two, so we start the show somewhere mid-brain. As you might guess, Cooper’s brain is one busy, densely populated place. Endorphins are played by a group of mangy cheerleaders, adrenalin has an anger problem, and don’t even think about messing with the female hormones.

As always, Cooper is a hoot to watch. Sure, she’s moving a little slower now that she’s with child. OK, she did take a little nap on stage. She shows she still has what it takes in the feisty dance number, “Sex Me Up Gilligan.” Cooper has assembled a cast of the usual suspects along with some unsuspecting newcomers. Each has their own brand of zaniness, a total necessity to survive a Cooper extravaganza.

Highlights of Cooper’s gray matter fun ride are Sean Patrick Judge as a stiff, upper-crusted Mr. Darcy, Paul Locklear as the lonely just-wants-some-attention narrator, Kyle Sturdivant as self-control and Walt Zipprian in every character he plays, especially Ann Coulter. (Someone needs to call Coulter and just tell her to give it up because Zipprian plays her better.) The piece gets off to a slow start but once it finds its rhythm it just zips along. The Obama number, “My President,” belongs in another musical and the “Brainfart Blues” falls a little flat. At the end, Cooper is confronted with her multitude of selves, ballerina Tamarie, artfully danced by Richard Jason Lyders-Gustafson, being my personal favorite. The story ends on a sweet and somewhat surprising note, not to be revealed here.

Music and lyrics by Anthony Barilla, Joe Folladori, DeWitt Gravink, Andrew Lienhard, Keith Reynolds, Patrick Reynolds and Grey Stanley add the necessary punch. Jodi Bobrovsky’s design has a fun house feel, as it should. All in all, a summer blues chaser if I have ever seen one. –Nancy Wozny

The Catastrophic Theatre, in cooperation with Stages Repertory Theatre, present The Tamarie Cooper Show: Journey to the Center of My Brain (In 3D!) through August 29, at Stages Repertory Theatre. Call 713-527-8243 or visit www.thecatastrophictheatre.com

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