There is one performance that I will always remember and that’s Coco Cohn’s performance of three kooky characters in Glimpses of the Moon at MetroStage. I was really happy to find out that Lauren ‘Coco’ was joining the cast of Mamma Mia! and I was thrilled to see her wonderful performance and have this opportunity to catch up.
Joel: You are so bubbly on the stage during Mamma Mia! How do you relate to Rosie who you play, and how is she so Coco-like?
Coco: How nice to be called bubbly! I relate to Rosie’s independence and to her unconditional loyalty and love for her best girlfriends. I suppose she’s ‘Coco-like’ because I am giving her life. Plus, she wears red lipstick. The creative team really gave me all the room in the world to very much bring myself to the role. And I think she’s kind of a perfect fit.
Why did you want to play Rosie?
Because she’s smart, kooky, loving, and wears sensible shoes.
When did you audition, what did you sing, and how long did it take from that audition to when you were offered the role of Rosie?
I was first seen for the role of Rosie in 2009. At that point, I had recently relocated to NYC from LA – the footlights were calling. My plan was to make Broadway happen. I was thrilled at the prospect of joining the Mamma Mia! cast, but the role wasn’t actually available at that time. The producers were just doing their twice yearly required calls. They proceeded to keep an eye on me regularly for nearly three years and more than half a dozen rounds of auditions. By the time the final round came this past Spring, and they were legitimately looking for a new Rosie, the team and I had become old pals. Each time they had me audition with my song from the show, “Take a Chance on Me.”
Mamma Mia! is an ensemble show. Have you worked with any of your co-stars before, and if yes, where? And why do you enjoy working with them in this show?
It is a wonderful ensemble and I had never previously worked with any of them. But lucky me for getting to now! And we really had a unique situation: the entire new principal cast started together on June 4th of this year. The eight of us had a month of rehearsal. The process wasn’t like being a replacement in a long-running show where you get two weeks to learn your track in a vacuum and then get shoved into the big picture. It was as though we were preparing for a new show; creating a fresh take on the material. Pretty special. And so are these people I work with. THE VERY BEST!!!
When did you first hear ABBA’s music and do you remember what song it was? How would you describe an ABBA song?
I think I first knew “Dancing Queen“ as a kid, but so much of the ABBA catalogue was familiar to me and I don’t even know why. It’s part of the forever-zeitgeist. Every generation knows these fABBAlous songs. Yes…I did actually just type that. And I am not even embarrassed about it. ABBA songs are contagious. And seemingly simple, but harmonically complex.
There are some outrageous costumes in the show. Which costume is your favorite? Tell me about your finale costume and what you like most about it.
My finale costume IS my favorite! Who would have thought I could love an unforgiving, Spandex body suit with exaggerated bell-bottoms and 6 inch silver, platform boots?!? But I do! It’s shiny and red (my favorite color!) and bedazzled within an inch of its life. Plus I have pleated, organza wings. WINGS! And if that wasn’t enough…the hydraulic lift raises me up thru the floor every nite for this costume’s entrance. Whee!!!
You know that I adored your performance in Glimpses of the Moon at MetroStage. What has happened with the show since MetroStage? What fond memories do you have about that experience?
Thank you, Thank you. I do know that Glimpses had another regional production after MetroStage. I was not involved, but have kept in close contact with the writing team, John Mercurio and Tajlei Levis, so I follow their creative path. I have unending affection for our production, my cast, Carolyn Griffin, and the entire creative team. The memories are indelible. I forged some lifelong friendships from that show. I could not have been more proud of it. And the absurd circumstances that got me there, as a last minute replacement, with five days of rehearsal, and then the critical acclaim, only make the memories that much sweeter. (I am prone to run-on sentences).
You played a very funny character named Coral Hicks in Glimpses of the Moon. I see some Coral in Rosie. Am I right?
Hmmm. Can I respectfully say no? Any similarities you see are ME. Plain and simple. Only the vessel is the same. We are who we are, I guess. Gotta bring my whole self to anything I do.
You fall for Bill Austin in Mamma Mia! How would you describe Daniel Cooney’s performance as Bill and why do you enjoy working with him? Why do you think Rosie falls in love with Bill?
Dan’s performance is funny, spontaneous, unselfconscious, and adorable. So is he! He’s a dream scene partner, and I could not be more grateful to share the stage every nite. Rosie falls in love with Bill because he’s funny, spontaneous, unselfconscious, and adorable…
You are making your Broadway debut in Mamma Mia! Do you remember what was going through your mind when you stepped on The Winter Garden stage to perform the role of Rosie for the very first time?
I am! A life-long dream realized! June 4th was surreal. Magical, but surreal. I was a bit out of body. Gratefully, I had some of my nearest and dearest there to witness the moment (and describe to me what the heck happened).
You are one of the funniest people I have ever seen perform on the stage. Who are some of your influences and who were the two funniest comediennes that you have seen perform on the stage?
Wow. Thank you, Joel, What a compliment! I am honored. I have been asked about my comedic influences before and I find myself at a loss for an answer. I don’t exactly feel influenced. I could make a list of funny and enduring performances that have affected me: Swoosie Kurtz in House of Blue Leaves, Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation, Pauline Collins in Shirley Valentine, Faith Prince in Guys and Dolls, Katie Finneran in Promises, Promises. And that’s just the women! How about Bob Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone, Danny Burstein in South Pacific, Douglas Hodge in La Cage, James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors, Christian Borle in Peter and the Starcatcher? This rundown is interesting…I clearly admire a head-to-toe performance with a healthy dose of pathos. I know I did not follow the format of this question. Will I be penalized?
I wouldn’t dare to try to penalize you!
What do you want theatregoers to take with them after seeing Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! Broadway (North America) website.