Rock renegade savors feel of Merrillville venue
By Bob Kostanczuk Post-Tribune correspondent December 7, 2011 11:38AM
Back for another fright night, Alice Cooper brings his 2011 worldwide tour to Merrillville's Star Plaza Theatre on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. | Photo Provided
Updated: January 10, 2012 8:06AM
Gothic, ghoulish shtick permeates Alice Cooper concerts, and he wants you to be able to see it.
That’s why the member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is no stranger to the 3,400-seat Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.
“It’s a good venue for us because I personally like playing theaters more than playing arenas,” Cooper said in a recent phone interview. “It’s better for our show. Everybody can see the actual show. We do play the big arenas and we play the big outdoor festivals, but our show, I think, relates better to an audience that’s 3,000.
“My show is always based on the character Alice, so you have to kind of see what Alice is doing up there. It’s a lot of theatrics. If you can’t really see them, you don’t really get the effect of them.”
Cooper, 63, brings his “No More Mr. Nice Guy” tour to the Star on Dec. 9.
A fast-paced sensory experience is promised.
“The audience won’t get a chance to get their breath, let’s put it that way,” assured Cooper, a pioneer of shock rock.
Although known for stage props such as snakes, the gallows and the guillotine, Cooper made waves on Top 40 radio with hard-driving, yet accessible, pop-rock offerings such as “Eighteen,” “Elected,” “Hello Hurray” and the anarchy-fueled “School’s Out,” which probably stands as his signature song.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” — from 1973 — was doused with AM hooks, making it clear that Cooper may have been a dark rocker, but not a serious proponent of die-hard heavy metal.
“ ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ has now become one of those songs that when you start it up, the audience goes insane,” Cooper noted.
Cooper is actually a Michigan-born guy who came into the world as Vincent Furnier. He loves to golf.
“I feel most comfortable in two places: onstage behind a mic and on the first tee,” Cooper said.
He noted people will occasionally call him by the name he had as a kid.
“You know, you’re in a mall and somebody goes, ‘Hey, Vince! Vince!’ ” Alice related with disdain. “But I never turn around if somebody says Vince.”
Please, call him Alice ... even Coop, but not Vince.
With a penchant for cuddly tunes like “I’ll Bite Your Face Off,” the veteran showman points out that Elton John’s original moniker was Reginald Kenneth Dwight.
“I always say, if Elton John was here, would you be going, ‘Hey, Reggie!’ ” Alice reasoned.
After making his mark in the 1970s, Cooper is still touring, logging the tail-end of his global “No More Mr. Nice Guy” tour of 2011, which started in May.
“Welcome 2 My Nightmare” is a Cooper album that was released in September and features “What Baby Wants,” a duet with Ke$ha.
Cooper said his 8 p.m. Friday concert at the Star Plaza Theatre will reflect the gusto of “Under My Wheels,” one of his more memorable songs.
“If you’re expecting a mellow Alice, you’re not gonna get it,” Cooper said, laughing.
All that feistiness can be had for a ticket price of $39.
What’s Jo Anne Worley been up to?
Well, the Lowell native popped up this year on “Jessie,” a Disney Channel original comedy.
She had a guest-starring spot as the eccentric Nana Bananas on the television sitcom.
Worley gained fame in the 1960s as a daffy cast member on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” a trailblazing experiment in rapid-fire comedy.
New shows at the Star Plaza Theatre include “An Evening with Bob Knight,” which is booked for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 5. Tickets are $25 and $40 for the Merrillville appearance.
I’m waiting for “Bob Knight: The Musical.”
Can you picture the dance numbers?
They would have to include “Watch Out World! (Got an Urge to Fling a Chair Across the Court).”
If a production about football’s Vince Lombardi can grace Broadway, so can a theatrical work about the bristly hoops legend.