In her return to Broadway for the first time postpartum, Lilli Cooper stars as Chris, a breast pumping White House correspondent who is itching for some scoop to rise above the pimply, nerdy colleague who had been filling her role while she was out on maternity leave. Chris is just one of the seven women in POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, Selina Fillinger‘s new play at the Shubert Theatre. “I was so excited because the character that I’m playing Chris is a working and nursing mom, which was just perfect,” Lilli told HollywoodLife.com in an EXCLUSIVE interview as part of our Tony Contenders series. “My favorite part about my audition is that in one of the scenes, my character is pumping, and so in my audition tape, I actually pumped.”
Lilli welcomed her first child, Bodie, in September 2021, and admitted that her “literal experience” as a mom helped inform her character. “I have the experience to bring to the table, plus I think it reading the script was way funnier from the perspective of a mom!” she gushed.
The new play takes place in the White House, where a variety of women in roles such as the Press Secretary and Chief of Staff help protect the male president, who has a tendency to be (searches synonym for ‘an asshole’) to women, piss off foreign allies and have extramarital affairs — sound familiar? “Selina dedicates the play to all of the women kind of in the background of male lead farces. And, that is the history of farces, right? Being filled with male characters,” Lilli told HL. “So to put the female characters in the forefront is really innovative and smart. It makes it so relatable because it’s just so true. I mean, how many scenarios are there where there are women behind the scenes really saving the day?”
As for her character Chris, who is in search for truth within a White House that is “enabling a terrible president,” Lilli says she took the responsibility of playing a journalist very proudly. “Chris wants to break that down and stop the enabling so that women can actually lead in these position,” she explained. “She’s a pretty badass character!”
Lilli is joined on stage by Vanessa Williams, Julianne Hough, Lea DeLaria, Rachel Dratch, Suzy Nakamura, and Julie White to complete the cast of absolute all-stars. “There were so many times that we just broke into laughter during rehearsals and that’s such a dream to have that kind of environment at work,” Lilli recalled. “It’s different reading it by yourself in your house, and then having these incredible actresses read it out loud. It came to life and it was genuinely, to this day, one of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read.”
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive is currently playing on Broadway at the Schubert Theater.