Concluding her first year heading Augustana’s musical theatre program, Shelley Cooper makes a fabulous, deeply affecting MBP debut directing the sprawling, emotional 1985 Roger Miller musical (Big River) with a sure, steady hand. She highlights the story’s rambunctiousness, deviousness, darkness, and goodness with equally impressive aplomb. Energy and excitement course through this production, even when it’s at its most solemn and contemplative
— Jonathan Turner, Dispatch-Argus Rock Island
Shelley Cooper brings with her an energy and excitement that is unmatched by other directors.
— Philip William McKinley, Director of SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK and Executive Director of MBP
-“While watching 21 ethnically, culturally, temperamentally diverse student talents acting and sing their hearts out in this moving musical lament for those suffering from AIDS (Elegies...) , I felt hopeful about the state of Augustana Theatre in particular, and collegiate theatre in general. I also felt kinda hopeful about the whole world”
— Mike Schulz, River Cities Reader
Shelley Cooper is as close to perfection as an artist can come. An artist as complete in skill as she is gifted with creativity, Shelley’s direction of Shawnee Summer Theatre’s Drowsy Chaperone resulted in one of the very finest shows to ever grace the theatre’s stage. She is a complete artist, a constant collaborator and as trustworthy of a director as you will find.
— Joshua Carroll, Artistic Director, Shawnee Summer Theatre
During the show I forgot I was in Thailand watching a student performance. I was carried away and found myself reflecting on my relationships while discovering similarities with the characters on stage. Shelley managed to transform the young Thai students to NYC grown ups and I was impressed with the details that the actors were able to portray without ever having been or lived in the city or in the States.

— Mariangela Chatzistamatiou, Director/Voice Professor, Mahidol University
I have improved as an actor beyond measures. All of the direction that Shelley gave me really changed me to not just to be a better performer, but also a better person, having a better perspective on life.
— Santipat Santichaianata, Actor “Bobby”


She so completely embodied the life and work of Callas that for most of the performance it was hard to tell it was Shelley performing and not the real Maria Callas
— Earl Weaver, Artistic Director of Theatre UCF
I have heard all of the live operatic performances in Chiangmai in the last 29 years and I believe Shelley Cooper’s ‘La Divina’ was the best of them all
— Dr. Howard Graves, Fine Arts Expert
For a riveting 75 minutes the audience ‘eavesdropped’ as it were, on La Divina’s interview with a non-existant Mr. Wallace. We were dragged through trauma, allowed glimpses of an extremely complex and tormented woman, and treated to some operatic gems including O Mio Babbino Caro, Carmen’s seductive Habanera and Vissi d’arte. Cooper WAS Callas!
— Lesley Junlakan, freelance writer, editor, and consultant
In the title role, Shelley Cooper’s voice rivals the Ariel familiar to us from the Disney movie. Her vocals jump from tender to powerful, wistful to funny with equal assurance. Big and bright, highly emotive, she’s clearly played much larger venues. Her performance is reminiscent of vintage Lucille Ball slapstick as she contorts her face to make Ariel’s nervousness and awkwardness apparent. When she finally plays it straight in the plaintive “If Only,” we witness the heart-tugging grace and vulnerability she’s capable of.
— Linda Lowen, Syracuse.com
Company regular Shelley Cooper already won her star with lead roles in the recent dual productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Into the Woods, but here she is both a comic and tragic heroine.
— James MaKillop, Syracuse New Times
Cooper’s salty/sweet rendition of ‘It was a very Good Year’ tells an altogether different story then Frank’s, but the show is richer for it.
— Glenn Kaufmann, Herald Times
As Curley’s Wife, Shelley Cooper exudes a heady cocktail of snobby, sexy disdain that can’t help but ensnare both George and her audience.
— Glenn Kaufmann, Herald Times
Cooper was hilarious as Audrey trying and failing miserably as a singer and later touching as the widow protecting the legacy.
— George Walker, WFIU radio
Cooper brings levity to Hank Williams play…. Cooper has the voice of an angel….Cooper’s performance alone is worth the price of admission!
— Michael Johnson, Bloomfield Free Press