On June 20, the Kapow-i GoGo marathon will be back again at the Peoples Improv Theater. Tickets are on sale now for $30 and available for purchase at the door or online here. I had the chance to sit down with some of the cast and creative team to discuss this unique show and how it came together. Leading up to the marathon, I will be sharing those interviews here.
Actress Eliza Simpson plays Princess Cloudberry in Kapow-i GoGo. In her interview, she talks about how Cats inspired her to become an actor, and she shares her memories of Saturday mornings spent eating “sweet wet cardboard” breakfast cereal and watching Sailor Moon.
Tell me about yourself and how you got interested in acting and theater. What was the first show that you remember seeing on-stage, and were there any actors or shows that really influenced you creatively?
My name is Eliza Simpson. I’ve been interested in performing all my life. My mother was a dancer and my father was an improv comedian, so it feels natural that I’ve landed somewhere between the two in the wildly physical, mad cap world of Kapow-i GoGo.
The first show I saw on stage was Cats. And before the show, I had been listening to the album for weeks in the car. So when the show started, my godfather had to lean over and tell me I wasn’t supposed to sing along with all of the songs. That’s when I vowed, if I couldn’t sing in the audience, I would become an actor. And then they couldn’t stop me. I think most of my creative journey is an effort to do right by that little 4-year-old squeaking along to “Memories.”
How did you first get involved with Kapow-i GoGo?
I became a Bat in 2014 doing a show called The Mysteries with a lot of the cast members of Kapow-i. And when that show ended, Serials started up again. Matt Cox had started writing Kapow-i before the hiatus, and in returning to it, didn’t feel like he could just pick up where he left off. So Kapow-i GoGo Z was born, the “second season” of the saga of the world’s greatest fighter. That’s when I came on board as Princess Cloudberry, or the Princess formerly known as Hopenoke. Being part of a Serials team is a great thrill and throws you in the deep end of performing in a really fantastic way.
For people who haven’t seen the show yet, what is Kapow-i GoGo, and what role does your character Princess Cloudberry play in the story?
Kapow-i GoGo is the story of a young girl who goes on a quest to become the world’s greatest fighter. We get to meet her at three very important points in her life. First, as a young teen inheriting the title of greatest fighter, discovering her power, and embracing her destiny. Then, as a disillusioned 18 year old, resenting the world’s expectations and suffering from loneliness and angst. Then, as an adult having claimed her power.
Princess Cloudberry and Kapow-i meet in Part 2. They become partners and friends. They share a desire to make the world a better place. They admire the things that make the other different. They match each other and challenge each other, and you get to see them grow up together.
Kapow-i GoGo is heavily based on anime, video games, and Saturday morning cartoons. What were some of your favorite video games and TV shows growing up, and as a kid, did you have a Saturday morning cartoon routine?
I loved Saturday morning cartoons. I still remember the feeling of starting to eat cereal when your mouth isn’t all the way awake, and it kinda tastes like wet, sweet cardboard. That was the best.
I didn’t play a lot of games but when I was 6 my cousin got me into Sailor Moon. The American ones, with the really crazy voices. That was huge. It consumed my life.
I’ve seen the show twice now, and I am amazed at the stamina it takes for these marathons. What is the rehearsal process like for the show, and what is the most challenging part of performing a 4+ hour show?
It’s all about finding a rhythm, and when you have a team like this, it’s beautifully simple. When you have this many people committing the same amount of love, drive, and energy, the impossibly heavy thing becomes a moderately heavy thing. And once they find their rhythm momentum takes over, it’s like a dance.
I love Princess Cloudberry as a character because she is kick-ass and adorable and just unapologetically girly. Can you talk a little bit about the helpless princess/“damsel in distress” stock character, which pops up a lot in video games, anime, and Saturday morning cartoons, and how Princess Cloudberry completely turns it on its head?
Yes! Princess Cloudberry is the girliest!! She also has this destructive power which she can’t really control. She reminds me of The Hulk in that way; always trying to avoid the fight because she knows she’ll win. I drew a lot of inspiration from Sailor Moon, who is this regal, powerful superhero, but also unapologetically at the mercy of her teenage hormones.
Like a lot of the characters in Kapow-i GoGo, Princess Cloudberry has a dark side that conflicts with her desire to be a good ruler of her kingdom. How do you balance all those parts of Princess Cloudberry’s personality and create a character that an audience can connect to within this outlandish world of Kapow-i GoGo?
Matt has created a beautiful dichotomy in Cloudberry. I just allow her to be as complicated and contradictory as a real person.
Tell me why people should come see the Kapow-i GoGo marathon at the Peoples Improv Theater on June 20!
Because it will sense memory transport you back to a time when Saturday meant cartoons and sweet, wet cardboard.
Where can people find out more about you and your upcoming projects?
You’re fighting in the World’s Greatest Fighter tournament, and it’s a tag-team round! Who do you want as your partner, Hicc-up GoGo or Whiskers the Fighting Cat?
Warheads or Airheads?
Mario or Sonic?
Kapow-i GoGo’s future son has built a time machine! Do you go back in the past and save the citizens of Happy Town, or get a sports almanac from the future and win all the monies betting on Ultimate Fighting matches?
The princess would save Happy Town. I, on the other hand…
“F—, Marry, Kill”: Master Masterwhiskies, Tuxedo Gary, and King Cloudberry
Kill Tuxedo Gary, f— AND marry Kapow-i GoGo.