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BWW Review: LILLI COOPER Dispenses ALL THE FEELS at 54 Below

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Lilli Cooper Talks about Motherhood, Hormones, Broadway and Family in Her New Show

BWW Review: LILLI COOPER Dispenses ALL THE FEELS at 54 Below

Many women, when they are 8 months pregnant, are beginning to think about curtailing their strenuous work activities, concentrating on decorating a nursery, or buying baby clothes and supplies. Not Tony nominee, Lilli Cooper (Tootsie, Spongebob Squarepants, Spring Awakening, Wicked.) Her idea of "taking it easy" involves putting on a pretty dress, and heels, yet, and opening a show at 54 Below. That show, ALL THE FEELS is about this particular transformational moment in her life. Her show is about all the things she loves, which have now taken on new significance because shortly she will get to share them with a brand new baby boy. After so many bittersweet shows about surviving the pandemic, it is a breath of fresh air to see a show that is so full of hope and joy.

And Ms. Cooper is a woman with eclectic and exquisite taste in music. Her program ran the gamut from Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Beyonce, and Prince to Ella Fitzgerald, Gershwin, and Kurt Weill. Her child can look forward to a first-class musical education as well as some pretty amazing lullabies. Having Lilli Cooper sing you to sleep is indeed enviable. But no one at 54 Below tonight was sleeping. The excitement was palpable.

She opened with a medley by three great soul singers. "Think" by Aretha Franklin, "River Deep, Mountain High" by Tina Turner, and "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder. She followed this by adding Roberta Flack and Dusty Springfield to the mix with "Killing Me Softly" and "Son of a Preacher Man." She had everyone in stitches with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. I know that doesn't sound right, but she recreated, word for word, Ella's live recording of "Mack the Knife," in which Ella forgot the lyrics about halfway through and made up hysterical alternate lyrics for at least three verses.

She gave us a very unique gender reveal of her upcoming miracle by singing Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy." She equated the closing of Broadway 16 months ago to a terrible breakup. Which lead her to two really great breakup songs, Lake Street Dive's "Good Kisser" and "Joshua Tree" by Rozzi. She promised to educate her child on the value of Netflix by singing a song from one of Netflix's biggest hits, Jingle Jangle, "Miles and Miles."

The highlight of the night, in my opinion, was a simple and beautiful reading of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" Watching Ms. Copper sing the song to her pronounced baby bump added wonderfully poignant layers to this gorgeous standard. She shared two wonderful dance tunes, Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance With Somebody" and Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover," taking her baby for a spin around the dance floor.

She ended the night with a story about family. She talked about frequently doing her homework when she was seven years old in her father's dressing room. Her father, of course, is Chuck Cooper, who was in the middle of his Tony-winning run of The Life. She recreated one of the highlights of that show, singing "The Oldest Profession." She gave an amazing performance of the song, finding every wry joke in it.

BWW Review: LILLI COOPER Dispenses ALL THE FEELS at 54 Below

Lilli Cooper was backed up by an amazing band, led by her Spongebob musical director, Julie McBride. Ms. McBride leaped between piano and synth with the dexterity of a dancer. She was also wonderfully supported by Ivan Bodley on bass and Mike Dobson on drums. All three had wonderful solos in "Someone to Watch Over Me."

Keep your eyes on Lilli Cooper. She's going to have her hands full in about a month or so. But if tonight's show is any indication, motherhood won't slow her down in the least.

For more information on Lilli Cooper, follow her @lilcoopz on Instagram, @LilliCooper on Twitter, or go to her website, lillicooper.com. To check out more great acts at 54 Below, visit 54below.com.


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