From Spring Lake - To Broadway - And Back
The children are revolting at Spring at the Spring Lake Theatre Co! Matilda the Musical runs from August 15 to August 25. Among the cast are Cooper Lantz and his mother Tracy Lantz from Brooklyn, who are at the shore for the summer.
Cooper is taking on the role of Bruce Bogtrotter, a young boy with a sweet tooth, while Tracy will be playing the role of Ms. Honey, the kind teacher who tries to help Matilda and the other children.
Cooper is returning to a stage that is somewhat smaller than what he has become used to performing on. For 13 months, he played Young Charlie in Kinky Boots on Broadway until it closed in April of this year, and had the opportunity to work with people such as Wayne Brady, David Cook, Mark Ballas and more, as well as meet Cindy Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics for Kinky Boots.
The Spring Lake Theatre Co, however, was his first experience with “adult theatre”. Cooper played Winthrop in The Music Man in 2017.
“Music Man was the first actual grown-up play I had done. Before that, I had only done junior shows in Brooklyn. To start, the first dance class I took was Tap. And I got interested in tap from watching the Tony awards!” Cooper exclaims when we first sit down.
Tracy, who was also in Music Man elaborates, “I joke Cooper came out of the womb with jazz hands and a spot light. He just loved performing from when he was very little. We ended up here doing The Music Man together since I had performed in shows at the Spring Lake Theatre when I was a teenager. I introduced him to the theatre young because of my background here, and it just clicked for him right away.”
After Tracy saw Cooper in the starring role of Winthrop, she decided to find an agent for him when he started asking to audition for more shows. Only a few months later, he got cast in Kinky Boots.
It was obviously a big experience to be on a Broadway stage, and it was the favorite part of Cooper’s day for the entire time he was there. Tracy explains how there was not one day during the 13 months he performed in Kinky Boots when Cooper ever said he was too tired or didn’t want to go to the theater. He loved every minute of it.
Matilda is the first play Cooper is doing since Kinky Boots ended. Interestingly enough, the two shows, Matilda and Kinky Boots, were in strong competition during the 67th Tony Awards in 2013, where they were both nominated for many categories, including Best Musical. Ultimately, Kinky Boots took home 6 awards, and Matilda the Musical left with four.
They are both excited to be back at Spring Lake Theatre Company and doing a show together again.
“It’s really amazing to be back! I love this place! My favorite thing is the community. It’s so fun, everyone is so nice. It’s so easy making friends. It’s like you’re in a community where everyone gets you,” Cooper enthusiastically explains.
Tracy agrees with her son,“He’s been coming home from rehearsal talking about how talented the other kids are and how nice everyone is and also how challenging it is, but it’s an exciting and fun challenge.”
One thing they enjoy with this production is that they get to spend more time together and share the stage more in Matilda than they did in The Music Man.
Cooper is also doing Summer Workshop at the theatre and was disappointed when a recent power outage caused a class to be moved. "It's the one thing I look forward to!" he exclaimed.
The most exciting thing about Matilda for both Cooper and Tracy is the music, and they share the same favorite number: Revolting Children. The song is one of the big moments for Cooper’s character, Bruce, who gets in trouble for eating chocolate cake.
“It’s a big number for my character, and also, it’s an exciting number where there’s a lot of movement. Even though it’s really hard, it’s really fun to do,” Cooper admits.
Tracy continues, “It’s great to see Cooper have his moment, but it’s just also such a triumphant moment in the show. Overall, the music is really cool in the show. There’s a lot of interesting songs, the sound and the lyrics are really brilliant.”
Experiencing that kind of moment on stage seems to be a common theme for Cooper. “I feel like every time I do plays at the Spring Lake Theatre,” he adds, “I get the character who has like the triumphant moment, like Well’s Fargo Wagon and then Revolting Children. I love those triumphant moments!”
Tracy, on the other hand, feels like she is quite different from her character, even though Cooper insists she is ‘such a Ms. Honey!’ One of the big differences is Ms. Honey’s tragic background, even though she remains kind despite it.
“I actually had a wonderful childhood doing theatre here at Spring Lake. And I had very supporting and loving parents, so the exact opposite of both Miss Honey and Matilda. But I love Miss Honey, it’s such a wonderful role. There’s great character development in the script, even though she had this terrible childhood, she still keeps the sweetness and love about her and just wants to help Matilda. It takes a very deeply kind person to stay that way and that’s where I’m approaching my character from.”
The two of them do share a love for villainous characters, however. Tracy dreams of one day playing a role like The Witch in Into the Woods or Ms. Hannigan in Annie, and Cooper adores Ms. Trunchbull in Matilda, who in the Spring Lake Theatre Co. production is played by Tyler Cicardo, despite the fact that the tyrannical headmistress puts his character Bruce in ‘The Chokey.’
If you want to see what The Chokey is and if Bruce manages to get out, come and see Matilda at the Spring Lake Theatre Company from August 15.