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Spotlight on ‘Book of Liz’ director Stephen Hooper

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Scene 1 Private Chambers of Rev Tollhouse 05On stage now in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is David and Amy Sedaris’ The Book of Liz. It is directed by Stephen Hooper, who embarked upon a career in theater 30 years ago.

Hooper did not study theater in college. In fact, he did not get into theater until he’d been practicing law for a number of years. Then he started acting on a whim.

“I was a trial lawyer, and one day my partners came to me and asked what I was doing tomorrow, Scene 11 Clluster Haven Kitch 03and I replied, ‘I don’t know, what am I doing tomorrow?’” They said ‘You’re coming with us to audition for a play.’ I used to clown around and do impressions of people, so they thought I’d enjoy acting.”

The play was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Hooper was still in his late 20s at the time. He got the plum role of Senex (A Stephen Hooper 01henpecked, sardonic Roman senator living in a less fashionable suburb of Rome). They made me up to look like I was 75, put me in a toga, and I sang and danced in my first production.”

Unbeknownst to Hooper, there was a director in the house at the final performance at that show. “In musicals, it’s tradition for the actors to greet the audience in the lobby after the performance. The director came up to me and asked me what I was doing tomorrow. I said, ‘I don’t know, what am I doing tomorrow?’ He replied, ‘I have a part for you in my next play. We start rehearsal tomorrow night.’ He pressed his card into Stephen Hooper 02Smy hand. I went down and ended up doing a lot of shows for him, but the role was that of a blackmailing extortionist janitor, and I’ve been doing theater ever since.”

Although Hooper may not have studied theater formally in college, he did observe and learn from every director he’s had the pleasure of working with. “Everything I know about theater I’ve learned from all the directors in the plays in which I’ve performed. Bob Cacioppo at the Rep, Al Richter, Bill Taylor at Theatre Conspiracy and Lauren, who directed me in The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues.”

The Wonderful Ms. Farley 01His favorite directing credits include Three Days of Rain, A Tuna Christmas, Becky’s New Car, and last season’s Kayak.

On the acting side, some of Stephen’s favorite roles include Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players), Mittler in Dispatches from Hell (Theatre Conspiracy), and most recently as Juror #2 in Florida Repertory Theater’s production of Twelve Angry Men.

Stephen is also a member of Theatre Conspiracy’s Rachel Takes a Bow 02Playwrights.

But for now, what Hooper would really like is for people to see Joann Haley, Jim Yarnes, Rachel Burttram and Trevor Beauvois-Kinney in The Book of Liz. It’s truly hilarious. And who can’t use a little lighthearted humor at times like these?

Posted August 21, 2016.

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