Seven Questions About Cats, Dames, & Dance with Eloise Kropp
February 7th, 2017
by Josh Ferri
BroadwayBox caught up with the Dames at Sea and On the Town alum to talk about her history with Cats, her classic MGM dream role, and more.
1. Jennyanydots is the motherly cat onstage—who’s like the cast mom backstage?
Do you not think I'm also the mom offstage? LOL. Honestly I may play the "mom" onstage but offstage I'm the unpaid entertainment no one asked for. I think in reality our true "mom cat" is our dance associate, Kim Craven. Not only does she have the hardest job of keeping the show clean, putting people in the show, listening to us gripe, keeping everyone safe...etc...etc. She is the sweetest woman and truly cares about each and every member of the company. She and our dance captains keep this show afloat. Cats is insane and people are constantly in and out of the show and so they have to be on their toes to make the show happen each night regardless of the circumstances. We had a week where six women were out sick, and the show went on. So, she in my mind is the "mom cat" for sure because everyone is always running to her when there is a problem.
2. As a dancer, did you grow up with that famous DVD of Cats? Were you a fan before being cast or was it new for you?
I did NOT. Hahaha. My mom thought it was creepy so we never watched it. We were allowed to have the Joseph VHS, which I watched ALL the time. I had done a production of Cats in the seventh grade where I played the Rum Tum Tugger but it was the abridged version and basically only had the opening number, the "Rum Tum Tugger", "Memory", and the ending. So when I was getting called in for the show I had no ideas who all these cats were and was convinced the show was a one act. It was only then that my roommate at the time set me down and forced me to watch the DVD and I realized that this show was a PRODUCTION.
3. What was your favorite day in rehearsal with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler?
Well every Saturday during rehearsals he would bring donuts...which obviously we ALL loved!! But my favorite day was the last day we had notes on the stage during previews. We were all beyond exhausted and he sat us down on the stage and he finally said the magic words that the show was "frozen". He gave a few more notes, but that day was mainly sitting and laughing about how crazy the past couple of weeks had been. None of us were focused and were just enjoying each other’s company. That was a great day because it was that day that I felt we were truly a tribe and had each other’s backs through thick and thin. This show bonds you in a way that no other show does, and so to say that we got close during rehearsals, tech, and previews is an understatement. #Tribe
4. How long does it take to get in and out of your Cats drag now?
I am extremely fast. It takes me about 15 minutes to get in pin curls and makeup, and then after the show it takes about 5-10 minutes to get out. I think some of the girls may be upset about how fast I can get into makeup...but in my defense my makeup plot is one of the easiest in the show!
5. What’s a small moment you have in the show that you love but audiences might miss if they aren’t looking?
There are so many moments in this show and honestly it’s a different show every NIGHT! But one of my favorite moments is when I'm with Skimble (Jeremy Davis) during Gus the Theatre Cat. We are in pitch black on the top of the car boot overlooking the entire cast, just sitting next to each other enjoying the view. This is one of the only moments where we can take a breath and relax, but it also feels like how Jenny and Skimble would spend most of their days. Sitting and overlooking everyone else, enjoying each other’s company, and scoffing at the kittens.
6. What was the biggest pinch-me moment of Dames at Sea?
Overall Dames was one of the craziest and quickest experiences of my life. But the pinch-me moment was closing night. We all finished dancing "Star Tar" (the last big tap number of the show) and we hit our final pose which we usually held for a second and then went upstage behind a curtain. Closing night we got a standing ovation. Up until that moment I had not cried during the show that night and when people started standing up one by one I LOST it. I was so moved by the support and love from the audience and it was when it hit me that I had survived this whirlwind experience with the most amazing five people by my side. The run may have not lasted a long time but it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.
7. What was it like to recreate that epic “Good Morning” number with Christopher Rice & Clayton Thomson? Has Kathy Selden been a dream of yours?
SO FUN. Chris Rice and I have known each other FOREVER because we both grew up in the same town in Oklahoma and actually went to the same college! So when he asked me if I wanted to be a part of this project I didn't even have to think twice. I love recreating old movie musical numbers, and I love getting to dance with my friends. I think there is so much to be had from watching and emulating these GREAT talents. The style back in the day is something I'm always trying to put into my performance. I feel the raw quality the performers had back during the movie musical era is what made people be able to relate and feel close to them. We have to realize that Debbie Reynolds had NEVER tap danced before Singin' In The Rain but if you watch the movie you would have no idea because she holds her own, and even credits Gene for teaching her how to be a star. Kathy has always been a dream of mine because she is not your typical ingénue. She has a little more fire in her and stands up to Don throughout the whole movie, but she is also extremely emotional and scared to fall for him. UGH, it's such a great role. One of those roles that is really scary because it would be a challenge to live up to Debbie's brilliant performance but also find a way to make it your own.
Head over to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre to see Eloise Kropp slay and dance the house down in Cats.