Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story

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ACT I

ACT I, SCENE 1

It’s a dark stage, and at first all you hear are murmurs, a heartbeat, and heavy breathing. Like, serious Lamaze. Then we see, in the middle of the stage, a large piece of paper showing two bare, spread legs, discreetly covered by a hospital sheet. The heartbeat gets louder. The breathing gets heavier and more frantic, like a dinosaur is sitting on Santa and tickling him at the same time. Finally, as it all crescendos, TINY COOPER comes into the world, crashing through the piece of paper and entering spectacularly onto the stage.

We are not going for realism here. He should not be naked and covered with amniotic fluid. That’s gross. He should not be wearing a diaper. He’s not into that. Instead, the person who emerges should be the large, stylish Tiny Cooper that you will see for the next two acts. To delineate him from Tiny at other ages, you should have him wearing a button that says AGE: 0.

Most babies come into the world crying or gasping or snotting.

Not Tiny Cooper.

He comes into the world singing.

Cue: Opening chords of “I WAS BORN THIS WAY.” This is a big, lively, belty number—because, let’s face it, if Elphaba got to sing “Defying Gravity” at the start of Wicked, she’d be much, much happier throughout the entire show. Tiny has just fallen into the world—some would say he was pushed—and already he has a sense of who he is and what he’s going to do. The music and the production value must reflect that. Sparkles, people. Lots of sparkles. Do not get stingy with the sparkles. The reason drag queens love them so much is that you can get them for cheap.

TINY:

Hello, my name is Tiny Cooper . . . what’s yours? I’ve just been born and, man, it feels good!

Cue music.

[“I WAS BORN THIS WAY”]

TINY:

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got brown hair,

big hips,

and green, green eyes.

And when I grow up

I’m gonna make out

with guys, guys, guys!

Why try to hide it?

What good would that do?

I was born this way

and if you don’t like it

that says enough about you.

If you find it odd,

take it up with God.

Because who else do you say

could make me shine this way?

All God’s children wear traveling shoes

whether you’ve got flat feet

or twinkle toes.

I’m going to dance right into this life

and keep dancing

as it goes.

I was born this way,

big-boned and happily gay.

I was born this way,

right here in the U.S. of A.

It’s pointless for you to try

to pinpoint how I became

so G-A-Y.

From my very first swish inflection,

the rainbow curved in my direction.

I’ve got genes that fit me well

and a spirit all my own

I was born this way—

The rest is a great unknown!

Really belting now.

I.

was.

born.

this.

way.

And I love.

the way.

I.

was.

born.

The rest

is a great unknown.

But I’m ready,

oh yes, I’m ready

to find my own!

If anyone is going to object to this musical, they will have left the theater at this point. Which is fine. That means for the rest of the time, you’ll have a crowd that really gets it.

Tiny Cooper steps over to the side of the stage, confiding in the audience. The stage clears. The spotlight is on him. (You will need a very big spotlight.)

A note on the spotlight: It should be very clear from the beginning that this is Tiny’s special place. I know plenty of people—like my best friend, Will, and my most recent ex (also named Will; long story)—who want to stay as far away from the spotlight as possible. But there are those of us who draw our power from those electric moments when everyone is watching, everyone is listening, and there is the most perfect silence you can imagine, the entire room waiting to hear whatever you will say next. Especially for those of us who ordinarily feel ignored, a spotlight is a circle of magic, with the strength to draw us from the darkness of our everyday lives.

The thing about a spotlight is that you have to step into it. You have to get onto that stage. I haven’t been ready for a lot of things, but from early on, I was ready for this.

TINY:

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t gay, although there were definitely times I realized it more than others. And I can’t remember a time I wasn’t huge—which pretty much erased hiding as an option. This was my normal—big and gay. I would have never thought there was anything unusual about it. Except that I didn’t live alone on a dessert island. [Misspelling intentional!] No, there had to be other people around. And the reaction I got from some of them made me self-conscious.

You don’t think babies can hear you. But you’re wrong. They can hear you.

The spotlight returns to the center of the stage. TINY’S MOM is wheeling a rather large, somewhat garish pink baby carriage. TINY’S DAD is walking beside her. The CROWD is made up of neighbors, all of them nosy, many of them judgmental. As they sing “OH! WHAT A BIG GAY BABY!” you should get a sense that they are both intrigued and disturbed by having such a big gay baby in their midst. As for Mom and Dad—they are alright with having a big gay baby, but they’re tired, because having a big gay baby takes a lot of work. Not just because he wants to dance all night and demands milk shakes from his mother pretty much every hour, but because of the endless questions from neighbors and the “guidance” of family members who seem to think Mom and Dad have control over how big or how gay their big gay baby is.

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