Alice and Sheryl Cooper reflect on the true meaning of Christmas pudding

Alice Cooper has a prediction for Christmas Pudding 2021, a perk for Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers.

“I think the guy who’s going to steal the show,” he said, “in my opinion is Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals.”

A late addition to Pudding’s lineup, Cavaliere led the Rascals (initially known as Young Rascals) in a string of pop soul hits in the ’60s, including the “Good Lovin'”, “Groovin ‘” charts. and “People I must be free.”

“How many hits does he have?” Asks Sheryl Cooper, who is seated next to her husband in a large rehearsal room at the original Solid Rock Teen Center on Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. The center offers free music, arts and dance programs to youth ages 12 to 20.

It turns out that Cavaliere is a longtime friend of the Coopers.

Cooper’s star-studded friends list helps with Christmas pudding

This is how Alice tends to put these Christmas pudding bills together.

“We’ve known the Rascals since 1968,” he says. “Alice Cooper’s original band met them before we were older. And they’ve been friends all these years.”

In addition to Cavaliere, this year’s lineup includes Cooper leading his own touring group (excluding guitarist Nita Strauss) with sets from Tom Morello, Ace Frehley of Kiss, Ed Roland of Collective Soul and Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray.

That’s a lot of variety on one bill. And that’s what Christmas Pudding has been striving for from the start.

“We had a classical pianist, a comedian, a mariachi band, Rob Zombie and Pat Boone together,” says Alice. “I like the idea of ​​a show where you have no idea what’s going to happen next.”

To which Sheryl replies, “That’s what makes it a pudding.”

This is also what makes it a five hour show.

Alice said, “We would always say, ‘Well, that should take about three and a half hours, maybe?’ No ! It always ends up being five hours and no one ever leaves. Because, you know, there’s still more to come. “

Being the stars of what is essentially their own variety show is a natural calling for the Coopers, having spent their lives in show business.

“We kind of fell into this thing,” said Alice. “We can’t help but put on a show. It’s kind of like a Mickey Rooney thing, Judy Garland. ‘Hey, I have a barn!'”

Just in time, Sheryl says, “I have the costumes.”

Alice Cooper and Sheryl Cooper listen to a student rock band after announcing a new Solid Rock Teen Center in Mesa at an event at Westwood High School on January 22, 2020.

COVID-19 made it harder to prepare for the show this year

It has been more difficult than usual to secure commitments to complete those five hours this year. After COVID-19 took everyone off the road for about 18 months, many bands are on tour until December, making up for lost time and / or wages.

“But the ones we got,” said Alice, “are the ones we wanted.”

He convinced Morello to sign while working on an Alice Cooper album with longtime producer Bob Ezrin.

“And while he was there I was like, ‘You know, Christmas pudding is coming,” “recalls Alice. He said, ‘I would love to. “He’s just a lovely guy. He didn’t even think twice about saying yes.”

Alice was delighted to be back on stage this summer after all this time away.

“We were stunned right at the start of rehearsals,” he says.

“When you’re so used to being in front of 10,000 people every night and the adrenaline rush? And that’s the only drug in your system, is adrenaline? And then you take it off for 18 months ? It’s like getting off a drug. “

As a singer and dancer member of the Alice Cooper show, Sheryl said, “Not only were we starving, but the audience live together? They were so energetic, so excited. It was electric.”

She has no doubts that this year’s pudding will be “nothing short of stellar”.

Sheryl Cooper to make her debut as a dancer

This year marks the first time Sheryl, a choreographer and dance teacher who has been dancing in her husband’s show since the 1970s, will dance at Christmas Pudding.

“I don’t mean to say that I was involved in this,” she jokes. “But pushing him gently …”

It was Hodgie Jo, a former student of Sheryl who is now the dance director at Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers, who suggested it.

“I was his first jazz teacher,” says Sheryl. “And he said, ‘You know, we should dance together again.’ I said, “I think we should,” and we are. We’re going to do a swing number. “

There is now a second Solid Rock center in Mesa

Solid Rock opened a second teen center this summer in Mesa.

“I was so proud of the board,” says Alice. “When it all stopped, we were like, ‘So we have the adolescent center in Mesa; what do you want to do ? Everyone at the board said, “Quickly. Let’s open up this place.” And it was built. “

It is a smaller installation than the original.

“But there are things this one doesn’t have,” said Alice. “And Mesa is Arizona’s largest school district. People don’t realize how big Mesa is.”

There has already been talk of building another teenage center in Mesa.

“I think we may have made the mistake initially by saying teens at risk without explaining it,” Sheryl says.

“There is no teenager who is not at risk. So all 12 to 20 year olds come here to learn. For free.”

The center encourages teenagers to come and discover their talent.

“Because you’re really not going to find this in schools anymore,” Sheryl said. “He was blown away. So who knows what spark might be ignited?”

Alice encourages the children to try everything until they find the one that clicks.

“I guarantee you they will find something that resonates,” he said.

“Come in, find your talent. We know it’s there. We just want to extract it from you. And this same kid who was swayed to go in a whole different direction on the street is now here riding a group. Or they do works of art. “

No matter what manages to capture their imaginations, once they find it, says Alice, “they come every day”.

It is a spiritual vocation for Coopers.

“What you are looking at in our lives is the outward expression of an inner transformation,” says Sheryl. “We have been saved by God to serve. We have had this continuous transformation in our lives, and we want to give back.”

Alice Cooper’s Christmas pudding

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, December 4.

Or: Celebrity Theater, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix.

Admission: $ 60 to $ 300.

Details: 602-267-1600, ext. 1, celebritetheatre.com.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on twitter @EdMasley.

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Corina C. Butler