Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Passing

Sad news in today's newspaper: actor Nye Cooper has died.

Those of you outside of the DFW area won't recognize his name, but for me and many around here this is the actor who perfectly embodied Crumpet, the cynical department store elf in the Santaland Diaries.

I got to design that show one year for WaterTower Theater, setting it in the store's stock room / break room... cluttered with odd chairs, wonky tables, a time-card machine, boxes, empty clothing racks, and dilapidated Christmas decorations.  Nye sat on a giant fake Gingerbreadman instead of on the more usual Santa throne.

And was he funny!

Perfectly cynical, so funny, and somehow touching.

Ever since then, when I watch someone else in the role, I compare them to Nye Cooper.  When I read the original David Sedaris story I hear his voice.

We hardly met - a quick "Hi!" in a hall once I think - but still there Nye Cooper is, a fixture in my mental library of great characters.  Just as another actress, Kristina Baker, is in my head: the measure for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.   Even Patti Lupone I compared with her.  (Patti?  Pretty darn good.  Helena sweety? I'm sorry.)  Kristina has also died, but I remember her Mrs. Lovett.

Acting is ephemeral stuff - gone as soon as seen - yet strangely longer-lived than the actors.

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