INTERVIEW: Collette Cooper talks Tomorrow May Be My Last
The award-winning Tomorrow May Be My Last returns to the historic Old Red Lion Theatre by popular demand for a three month residency until 6th May 2023.
Tomorrow May Be My Last displays an era of oppression, rebellion, evolution and
enlightenment, this is the story of a small-town girl’s remarkable journey, from an adolescent outcast to a musical icon.
Telling the true essence of the legendary 1960’s rock star Janis Joplin will be played by non-other than the critically-acclaimed, renowned singer-songwriter
and actor, Collette Cooper. Previously named as Musician of the Year by Darkus Magazine, Collette has also been nominated for four Off West End Awards, including Best Musical Production and Best Leading Actor, and winner of the London Pub Theatre Standing Ovation Award for Best Solo Show written by Performer.
I got the chance to ask Collette some questions, to find out more about the show and to give you an insight into why you should go and see this show if you get the chance.
What is Tomorrow May Be My Last about?
It’s about the turbulent life of Janis Joplin set in a Woodstock vibe festival with a live band and intimately backstage in her dressing room.
What do you love about playing Janis Joplin?
I love her complex character, her music, her humour, her politics, her energy.
What is it like performing in a one woman show?
It’s like running a marathon every night but more exciting and the relationship with the audience is more intimate.
Why do you think the show's themes reflect on today's society?
We live in turbulent times and the more I learned about Janis’ story and the wider
culture around her I saw how turbulent the late 60s were too. As we developed the show, we could see so many parallels between her world then and ours today.
For one, race relations are bad, particularly in America today, and they were so bad then too. One of the reasons Janis was bullied was because she couldn’t stand growing up under segregation in the south in the 50s and early 60s. There were many race riots across America in the 60s and a lot of police brutality. When we first developed the story in 2020 it was when George Floyd was killed by police sparking the whole Black Lives Matter protests. It was very similar to what was happening in the 60s. There was a lot of Left v Right political divide back then as there is now. And of course, with Covid I was surprised to learn that there was a major flu epidemic in 1968 that killed a million people. I couldn’t believe how many similarities there were.
So, people seeing our show today will relate to the themes in our play set in the late 60s. And of course, Janis was a pioneer for women in music - particularly in rock. At that time women were expected to be prim and proper - the girl groups and artists like Dusty Springfield.
Janis rebelled against that stereotype. She didn’t wear make-up, or have very neat hair. She was one of the guys. So, she forged a path for women in rock music to be themselves. The music industry is better for women today than it was then, but not as good as it should be.
Women today still have to fight hard to be heard. And more personally, Janis’ struggles with self-worth and bullying, resonates with young women who come to see the show. And there’s the LGBQT theme as Janis was bisexual which wasn't socially accepted and still isn't today in parts of the world and is a constant battle for the LGBQT community. And finally, Astrologically, 1968 had entered into the age of Aquarius which has come full circle again. We are now in the new age of Aquarius.
What’s the inspiration of the show?
There are strong messages in the show which I wanted to convey, one of which is
about living in the moment and in a world where everyone is glued to their phones and living their lives through social media. Janis was all about living in the moment and as I mentioned earlier, she was a pioneer politically and musically which was a huge inspiration.
What interested you in performing in the show?
I wanted to combine my acting with my singing, and I have so many similarities to Janis J (apart from the above) also including the same musical influences such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, so it became an organic choice to write the story.
What is it about the show you think will pull in the audience?
It's very relatable and it's a real feel-good, uplifting vibe, which is exactly what we all need right now plus a complimentary Southern Comfort cocktail! And you don't need to be a fan of her or even know anything about Janis to enjoy the laughter and tears of her life story and her incredible live music.
What do you do to get into character before the show?
I had to physically change which took around a year. Grew my hair long and added a few pounds to be lovely and voluptuous like her. I just try to become her the best I can and portray my interpretation of her.
How will audiences react?
I think they'll like it, they'll definitely be up dancing at some point and singing along too :-) Previous audiences seemed to really enjoy it and we have been so grateful for all the great reviews it's received so far.
How would you describe the show in one sentence?
An emotional rollercoaster.
As a young theatre fan, I wasn’t aware of Janis Joplin but after hearing from Collette and hearing how relatable Janis’ life and the 60s are to our society now I know I will be booking to see the show - get your tickets now!
Tomorrow May Be My Last features all the elements of a West End show in an intimate, affordable setting with a complimentary Southern Comfort cocktail with every ticket and will play at the Old Red Lion, playing from Tuesday 14th February – Saturday 6th May 2023.
Tickets are from available from £15 - £25
To book your tickets…