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Random Thoughts: A Community Conversation with Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper [personal photo]

Ryan Cooper [personal photo]

This week, Mid Rivers Newsmagazine talks with Ryan Cooper, the creator and director of “Legends & Lanterns: A ‘Spirited’ Journey Through Halloween History.” Cooper also plays Jack Frost in Saint Charles Christmas Traditions, is a tour guide for the St. Louis Cardinals and a docent for the new Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum located within Ballpark Village, where he oversees the “Holding History” exhibit. Cooper serves as a docent for the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center and has participated in multiple productions with STAGES St. Louis, including “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cat in the Hat.”

Why did you decide to do the work that you’re doing now?

I’m someone who doesn’t like to be bored. I like to constantly be busy … I always loved plays [and] being creative. Every job I’ve had has some kind of theatrical aspect to it, whether it’s giving a tour, where you essentially have an audience with you for an hour, or performing in a show at STAGES or Christmas Traditions or Legends & Lanterns where I kind of get to create all the programming for it – the props, the themes, the scripts and everything … I always wanted to do something that was really fluid and fun, and everything I do is fun! I never get up any day upset that I have to go to work or sad that I have to go to work or say that I wish I never had to go to work because I love everything that I do. It’s kind of how I ended up with 18 million jobs, but it’s 18 million jobs that I adore.

What is the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned?

I [worked] for Disney for a little bit and that’s really where I experienced the unfortunate business side of show business. The cutthroat aspect of it is sometimes you find that you are not always in control of the situation, and sometimes these big dreams you have for yourself have factors you can’t control … Sometimes things you really love come to an end unexpectedly, and you have no control over it. It’s over, but it happens.

What are some small things that make your day better?

I have a tiny little dog named Babette. She’s a little, fluffy lap dog. She sleeps 23 hours a day, it feels like, but she makes me very happy. Now that I’m involved in [Legends & Lanterns], getting to be on the side where I get to see people thrive and kind of nurture them and see them spread their wings under my direction and whatnot, that’s fun. I also love that it’s getting cooler out. I’m a big fan of fall, so that makes me very happy now. And a good book always makes me happy.

If you could call yourself at any point in your life, when would you call and what would you say?

I think I’d call … around the middle-school age – I was always someone who was a little bit quirky, a little bit different – I’d say, “Keep on doing what you’re doing. All this quirk that makes you seem kind of bizarre or different now, you’re really going to appreciate when you’re older, and that it kind of helps you thrive and gives you such passion, and that’s what makes you unique.”

What is the funniest word in the English language?

Spelunking. You know, I’ve never gotten the urge to go spelunking, but I try to find as many ways as I can to work it into the conversation, sometimes more successfully than others, because it is fun to say.

When you are old, what stories will children want you to tell them?

Something that I find amazing to this day is, because I’m Jack Frost with the Christmas festival, how he is so much more popular than I could ever, ever hope to be. I will be someplace and I’ll say something, and people will be like, “I recognize that voice. You’re Jack Frost.” And then people will talk about it. I feel like I’m going to be Jack Frost until I’m 90 … I’ll be there with my little walker, and still doing my thing, but honest to God, no matter what I do or what festivals I create or what shows I go on to do, I think kids are going to say, “Tell me about those years when you were Jack Frost.” 

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