The world's supposed to end this year (again). That doesn't mean we can't have a little fun before we go at the Tamarie Cooper's Doomsday Revue (The Greatest Musical Ever!).
Cooper, co-founder and Associate Director at Catastrophic Theatre, has been producing her original musical revues since 1996 when she performed an off-the-wall piece that was part fashion show and part cooking demonstration one weekend at the Orange Show. "The first shows didn't even have a script," she says. "We were very ragtag and very disorganized. We didn't know what a stage manager was. Over time, we've become a well-oiled machine." Those early shows, lovingly called "Tamalalias," went on for ten years. Then Cooper decided to take a break. That lasted just one year. ("I was like Cher and came back," she laughs.)
Every year, as soon as the show opens, people start asking Cooper, "What are you going to do next year?" Last year her writing partner Patrick Reynolds quipped, "Well, next year the world is ending anyway, so we probably won't have to do one." And just like that The Doomsday Revue was born.
Like all good, old-fashioned musicals, the show features a cast of thousands (well, actually, 14 people plus a band). At the center of it all is the multitalented Cooper. "I'm the straightman," Cooper tells us. "I'm a silly straightman, with a lot of other really crazy characters around me.
"It's not in any way a deeply plot-driven evening of theater," she deadpans. "The show uses the end of the world as a starting point, but ends up in some very weird places that have nothing to do with the apocalypse.
"At one point in the show, I re-enact a very pathetic, humiliating night at a party from when I was in high school. When you're a teenager, every day is like the end of the world." The show also features "Barbie Sex Boat!" a song based on End of the World, a game Cooper played as a young girl. (She'd gather up all her toys and decide who was going to survive.) The version in the show has a slight twist. "Our escape ship eventually turns into the Barbie Sex Boat." Another number is called "We Can't Wait to Entertain the @!**! Out of You," which also seems to be the unofficial mantra for Cooper and company.
Even though she's worked on lots of other projects, Cooper says she finds doing an original show the most satisfying. "I think sometimes that comedy is underrated in our society. The serious, tragic movie always wins the Oscar; it's never a comedy. That's important, in that we need to go through those cathartic moments, but we also need to spend some time laughing at ourselves. I feel that's sort of my mission."
See Tamarie Cooper's Doomsday Revue (The Greatest Musical Ever!) at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at DiverseWorks, at 1117 East Freeway. The show runs through August 25. For information, visit the Catastrophic Theatre's website or call 713-522-2723. Admission to all shows is pay-what-you-can. Buy your tickets early; shows tend to sell out.