Australian talent leads the stage in ‘Les Miserables’

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The pressure of finding a job and transferring knowledge from college into the “real world” is a very real challenge for seniors and graduating students.

Timothy Cooper, right, plays the role of Marius in Hale Center Theater's production of "Les Miserables".
Timothy Cooper, right, plays the role of Marius in Hale Center Theater’s production of “Les Miserables”.

But for Timothy Cooper the transition has already begun. The 5-foot-5-inch Australian and self proclaimed “class clown” landed the role of Marius in Hale Centre Theatre’s production of “Les Miserables.” The show started Feb. 14 and runs through April 19 at the Hale’s West Valley theatre.

“I feel so lucky to be performing right now,” Cooper said. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was to perform and inspire others. The role of Marius is one I have always wanted to do. People are being touched by this version of the show, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Known for his infectious smile and energetic personality, Cooper, a senior in the music dance theater major, has made his mark at BYU.

“Tim likes to be at the center of whatever social situation he is involved in,” said Tim Threlfall, BYU show director and theater professor. “He is a people person and enjoys interaction with just about everyone.”

Threlfall said Cooper is a great performer. “He is a great leading man … but is also a great character man with a good sense of comic timing. His future holds a long career in the theater.”

Cooper said meeting Threlfall was one of the reasons he auditioned for the theater program at BYU. Converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while selling alarms in California for work between theater jobs, Cooper is the only member of the Church in his family. Cooper said he never really saw himself living in Utah, of all places. He was invited to dinner at the Threlfall’s home one evening.

“I came to Utah one winter with my friends so that we could snowboard, and then dinner happened, and I haven’t left,” Cooper said. “I didn’t know where my life was headed, but it all felt right at the time. BYU felt right.”

Born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, Cooper began performing around the age of five, singing in his Baptist church and holding lead roles in his elementary school productions. At the age of 14 he found an interest in rugby and dropped all acting and singing until he separated his shoulder at the age of 17.

“Something drew me back to acting after that surgery,” Cooper said. “While I again focused on my singing and acting, I have never lost my love of sports. I still watch them on TV all the time and still play them whenever I get the chance. I think that also separates me from some other theater performers.”

In his short three years at BYU, Cooper met and married Sarah Russo Cooper, a senior BYU dance performance major.

“Every time I watch Tim on stage I am blown away,” Sarah Cooper said. “He becomes so invested in whatever role he is playing, and he connects well with the audience. Sometimes its shocking to be reminded how talented he is and that I actually married him. I just feel lucky.”

Tim Cooper plans to move to New York shortly after his graduation from BYU in April. He plans to “work in the entertainment industry for as long as possible” but also to raise a family with his “beautiful wife.”

To see Timothy Cooper in “Les Miserables,” visit the Hale Center Theater before April 19, 2014. Ticket prices and more information on the production can be found here.

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