Five Burning Questions with An American in Paris Leading Lady Leanne Cope
December 23rd, 2015
by Josh Ferri
After a more than a decade dancing at The Royal Ballet, Leanne Cope made the leap to Broadway and gave us a stunning, Tony-nominated debut performance as Lise Dassin, an aspiring French ballerina who captures the hearts of three men in post-occupation Paris, in the lush musical adaptation of An American in Paris. Below BroadwayBox catches up with Cope to talk about her co-stars, her 18-year-old self, and the ballet role she still wants to dance.
1. What do you do for yourself to help physically sustain this long run in An American in Paris?
I take ballet class most mornings; it's just something I've always done, but I also do Pilates once a week and I try to get a massage once a week. Much of my day revolves around getting my mind and body getting ready for the show.
2. What ballet star did you idolize growing up? Is there a ballet dream role still out there for you?
Sarah Wildor, she was a British ballerina who I always looked up to. She was so musical and an incredible dance actress. There are so many roles I would love to still dance—Juliet from Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet or Manon—though I'm very lucky in An American in Paris that I have moments that feel like Juliet and Manon to me.
3. Lise is 18 when the audience meets her in An American in Paris, how would you describe 18-year-old Leanne? What brought her joy? What were her biggest struggles?
In some ways my life was similar. I wanted to be a ballerina and I got offered my job with The Royal Ballet when I was 18 like Lise being offered her job at the Chatalet. I was a very happy 18-year-old living in a small apartment in London with 7 other girls, but I struggled with self- confidence, I always doubted my abilities as a dancer and I still do now but if I could tell my 18-year-self one thing, it would be to believe in yourself work hard and don't compare yourself to anyone else.
4. Tell me about a moment in An American in Paris that’s kind of an easter egg—I might not notice it unless you pointed it out right now.
There are so many lovely little details in the show. Our director Christopher Wheeldon really wanted to make an appearance in the show so on the Baurel picture frame there is a photograph of Christopher and our assistant director Jackie Barrett in ‘40s costumes, so they are always looking over us. I like to pretend they are Lise’s parents.
5. If you had to describe each of your three AAIP guys’ personalities as cocktails, what would Robbie, Brandon and Max be?
Max would be a Manhattan—very sleek and sophisticated; Brandon would be an Old Fashioned—warm and comforting; Robbie would be a Champagne Cocktail—bubbly and fun. Though nobody in the American in Paris cast can say no to a shot of fireball whiskey.
See Leanne Cope's dazzling performance in 'An American in Paris' at Broadway's Palace Theatre.