Sipping a cup of hot water, Amanda Cooper sits in her Queens apartment, gently soaking-in the changing weather of New York. In a few hours, she’ll begin the walk to her dressing room at the Gershwin Theatre. Packed with photos of friends and family, a stuffed pillow dog named Frances, and the sparkles of dresses from Glinda’s closet flickering in her mirror, Amanda has called this place home since the end of July.
Amanda began her journey as Glinda in 2011 on the National Tour. After she left the tour, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue work in television and film, landing roles in Glee (FOX), Masters of Sex (HBO) , and Selfie (ABC). She returned to Oz in late 2015 and ended her run in spring 2017, moving to Broadway four months later.
Performing in the eighth longest-running production in Broadway history, a milestone which was reached one week after Amanda joined the Broadway cast, can present challenges to her overall health. As Glinda, Amanda is empowered through her ability to show empathy to others. In her own life, Amanda has found empowerment through self-care and learning what her body needs in order to thrive on and off stage.
So Yummy: You have been playing Glinda for a few years now, but this is your first time representing her on Broadway. Can you tell us a little about your journey from the National Tour to Broadway?
“Some would say I am tickled pink as they say to be flying by bubble and to have gotten a chance to do that over the course of a few years. I feel very fortunate to have played her during different seasons of my life. There can be a big difference, especially in your 20s. It has been great to grow alongside her. As I have changed, she has changed. The move from tour to Broadway it has just been really a gift because there is so much to explore with her [Glinda]. I don’t think you’re ever really done with a character. There is also something more to find.”
So Yummy: What are some of the differences you found between touring the country and living in the same place?
“I really loved learning America. I think on my last time on the tour I went to 20 different cities in 16 months. Part of me sometimes does miss being in the different pockets of our country, but New York has it’s own gifts and challenges as well. There is a vibrant, fast, kinetic energy that you can feel in the air here.
Physically, the tour has certain challenges. You’re in the air quite a bit on planes trying to get to the next city. Sleeping in new beds every few weeks, experiencing new air qualities, and being aware of new allergens in the theatre.
I’m really grateful for that time because I was able to learn my body in and out so well. I knew what I needed in order to do 8 shows a week. It really is a boot camp in self-awareness when it comes to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. You have no other choice but to learn very quickly what you need and don’t need. I felt really empowered by that.”
So Yummy: What are a few of the things you have discovered your body needs in order to perform 8 shows a week?
“A lot of my rhythms and patterns are the same here as they were on tour for self-care. I get 10 hours of sleep every night so my body can fully restore itself. I’m a huge fan of steaming; I use a Vicks personal steamer. I do vocal warm-ups every day, and I drink a lot of water. Some people drink tea, but I am a fan of just boiling hot water. Like, that’s my drink order when I go to Starbucks.”
So Yummy: How has the community impacted your wellbeing?
“It certainly does wonders for my heart to be around such wonderful people every day doing something that we all really love. It’s one thing to be a part of something you dreamed of doing your whole life, but it’s even better when you can do it alongside people who share the same dream. It’s a family that gets to create magic every day.”
So Yummy: What self-care practices will you take away with you long after you leave the Wicked family?
“One of the biggest gifts of doing this job is you gain a level of self-awareness is that you have no other choice but to learn yourself. Also, in a high-pressure situation, your thoughts to yourself are highlighted so not only did I learn what I needed for my body, but I learned what I needed for my mental health.
Inevitably, there will be days that you will look down on yourself. I am learning what it looks like to be kind to yourself, and encourage yourself mentally in order to be available to the audience. I will carry that with me the rest of my run here, and throughout the rest of my career.”