Just a week after its first 2021 production, the Mississippi Bend Players, with Shelley Cooper, will be back this week with her original one-woman show, Mary and Ethel: How I Learned to Sing.

Augustana Musical Theater Prof Brings “Mary and Ethel” to Mississippi Bend Players

Shelley Cooper is assistant professor of theatre at Augustana College.

The show, which debuted at the Circa ‘21 Speakeasy in September 2020, contains musical numbers from musical theater Golden Age icons Mary Martin (1913-1990) and Ethel Merman (1908-1984).

With musical arrangements and piano accompaniment by Quad-City music director Mason Moss, Cooper sings multiple medleys from Golden Age classics like Anything Goes!, Hello, Dolly!, The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, Peter Pan and more. She pays homage to Merman’s brassy, unapologetic attitude and Martin’s vulnerable and lovely demeanor.

Augustana Musical Theater Prof Brings “Mary and Ethel” to Mississippi Bend Players

Mississippi Bend Players will present “Mary and Ethel: How I Learned to Sing” at Brunner Theatre Center, Rock Island, June 24-27.

Cooper – Augustana assistant professor of theatre — has been performing and interested in theatre since childhood, and during Mary and Ethel: How I Learned to Sing, she speaks on how both Martin and Merman influenced her relationship with theatre.

Outside of performance, Cooper has most recently directed Beehive at Circa ‘21, Into the Woods at Augustana College and also has another original one-woman operatic show, La Divina: The Last Interview of Maria Callas.

After performing it in late May at the Orlando Fringe festival in Florida, the multi-talented 35-year-old earned the Orlando Fringe Critic’s Choice for Best Individual Performance, Drama, for “La Divina.”

At Mississippi Bend Players, rising Augustana junior Synthia Gonzalez serves as the “Mary and Ethel” stage manager, while the rest of the production includes artistic director Jackie McCall, company manager Joe Oliger, technical director and designer Cameron L. Strandin, costumer Megan Hoppe, assistant designer Roger Pavey and crew members Lauren Clarke, Samantha Flipp, Trinity Filut, Sammy Ramont, Riley Scranton and Sarah Walton.

Performances will be June 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. and June 27 at 2 p.m. in the Brunner Theatre Center, 3750 7th Ave., Rock Island, at Augustana. Tickets for Mary and Ethel: How I Learned to Sing are available at https://mississippibendplayers.com/ or calling the box office at 309-794-7306.


Augustana Musical Theater Prof Brings “Mary and Ethel” to Mississippi Bend Players
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.