OffWestEnd talks to Collette Coooper who is appearing as Janis Joplin in Tomorrow May Be My Last for a thrilling three-month residency at Old Red Lion Theatre until Saturday 6 May

Collette Cooper is an award winning actor, writer, musician, originally from Manchester with Irish heritage who is signed to the independent label Thelonious Punk Records championed by BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 Music, Soho Radio and Jazz FM. Cooper has worked extensively in TV and film with the likes of Jane Campion, Samantha Morton and Michael Winterbottom. Her theatre experience extends from her early teens where she first started to tread the boards.

What first attracted you to the theatre?

Since I was little girl, I always wanted to perform and entertain and there’s no better place than the theatre which just holds such warmth and excitement.

If you could pick any one person or theatre company to work with on your next project, who/which would it be?

Honestly, I don’t know! There’s so many great actors and companies out there. I do really like Nica Burns’ energy and commitment to the theatre.

What is your opinion of Off West End theatre, in general?

I love anything grassroots! It holds rawness and honesty, and it feels more about the actual substance rather than the style and it’s where it all originally started, and it always feels more intimate. I love that history.

What was the most inspiring performance you have ever seen? Why?

Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland, she was simply outstanding! She lived and breathed her. She became Judy. Stunning performance! And Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, again she lived and breathed her.  Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, she sent me on an emotional roller coaster. All incredible performances which I’ll never forget!

What piece of work are you the most proud of?

I’d have to say my current play, Tomorrow May Be My Last – I’ve written and directed it as well as performing it. A lot of blood, sweat and eyelashes have gone into it 🙂

What things in your personal life do you draw from when you perform?

Depending on the role I portray, I draw on as many similarities and experiences as possible, which resonates with the role.

Who is the best actor/actress performing on Off West End today?

I’d say Sharath Chandra, a good pal of mine who’s very new to theatre in the UK. He has such pathos and truth in his work.

Musical, comedy or drama- what’s your preference to watch?

Oooh, I love a bit of drama…. And a bit of music… 🙂

Can you tell our readers about what you’re doing now/next?

I am currently at the Old Red Lion Theatre for the next three months until 6 May with Tomorrow May Be My Last. The Janis Joplin biopic, set in a Woodstock vibe festival and backstage in her dressing room with an incredible live band. “Gig Play”