Jordan E. Cooper is "ecstatic" about bringing his new play "Ain't No Mo'" to Broadway.
In the latest episode of "The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal," Cooper chats with Charlie Cooper (no relation) about how Lee Daniels became the producer and what it's been like to tackle the play as both the playwright and star.
The new comedy, which comes to the Main Stem following a 2019 run at The Public Theater, is currently in previews at Broadway's Belasco Theatre with an opening night scheduled for Dec. 1. Through satirical vignettes, the play imagines a world in which the United States offers Black Americans a one-way ticket to Africa.
Daniels, a producer on films like "The Butler" and Oscar nominee "Precious", saw the 2018 mounting of "Ain't No Mo'" and, Cooper said, the two shared "a beautiful connection."
"He had this kind of fury in his eyes, like, "I want more people to see this," Cooper recalled.
But Cooper wasn't sure his play would ever be produced. He began writing it in late 2016 when Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered within a day of each other. Cooper said that asking challenging questions and his search for levity during such a tragic time helped the play become the satire it is now. "I'm the kind of person who always says I like to laugh at funerals," Cooper said. "Like, why is she wearing a bra if she's going six feet under? I just always have to find some kind of joy, because I feel like there is something to laugh about in the perseverance of a thing."
As far as serving as both the writer and star of the play, Cooper says he tends to approach the work as an actor first. He works with director Stevie Walker-Webb, asking questions about the text as an actor, while also making minor script changes and edits.
"I'm so grateful for the gift of both because I feel like acting makes me a better writer and writing makes me a better actor," Cooper said. He's also grateful for the experience of working with Daniels, who is teaching him how to "pass the baton on when it's my time."
Viewers of "The Broadway Show" can also catch an interview with Christian Borle and J. Harrison Ghee, two of the stars of the new musical "Some Like It Hot," which is now in previews at the Shubert Theatre. The episode also features a behind-the-scenes look at opening night of "Almost Famous," courtesy of star Casey Likes. Fadal also chats with "Walking With Ghosts" star Gabriel Byrne on bringing his memoir to the stage.
"The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal" airs on weekends. Check your local listings for air time and channel.