SEAFORD raised Eli Cooper is set to star as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at the Regent Theatre.
Cooper, 28, has played the role since the show opened in Australia at the end of last year. He has now performed in Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide, and said that playing the part has been an incredible experience.
“Playing this role has been such a cathartic journey as an actor to go on because fundamentally the Scarecrow thinks there is something really wrong with himself. Over the course of the two hours, he discovers that he’s loved and appreciated just the way he is. It’s hard not to leave the show thinking that I can take on the world,” he said.
Cooper booked the role last year after originally auditioning to be in the ensemble. He said being considered for the main role was a shock.
“I actually auditioned to be in the ensemble, thinking I might play a munchkin or something like that. During my audition process, they asked me to come in and audition to be the understudy for the Scarecrow. After my audition with the Scarecrow’s song and scenes, they liked what they saw and brought me back in. I thought the whole process was to be an understudy until I got the phone call saying that I got the role,” he said.
Cooper has previously performed in Melbourne in the production of Matilda as part of the ensemble and has also performed in Grease playing the role of Eugene. This is also not his first experience with Wizard of Oz, having previously put on a performance of the show at the Frankston Arts Centre in his younger days.
As part of this company, Cooper finds himself working alongside a number of huge names in musical theatre, including Anthony Warlow, Lucy Durack, and Jemma Rix.
The show will begin its run in Melbourne on 17 May and is set to be open until the end of July. Cooper grew up attending school in Seaford, where he was first put on the path of performance.
“I went to Seaford Primary School, and when I was there my grade six teacher’s son was at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. He saw how much I loved dancing and being in the school concerts and he said that I should go and check out the open day, so I did. I saw what they got up to and I knew I just had to go there, so I auditioned and got in.”
Full story in the June edition of Peninsula Essence magazine – out June 1st.