AN AMERICAN IN PARIS in Cinemas
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BWW Interview: For Evermore... Leanne Cope on Her Journey in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; In Movie Theaters on Sunday!

BWW Interview: For Evermore... Leanne Cope on Her Journey in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; In Movie Theaters on Sunday!
Leanne Cope in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Taped during the 2017 London engagement, the Christopher Wheeldon directed and choreographed Tony-winning musical AN AMERICAN IN PARIS comes to movie theaters in the United States on September 23. The live capture, distributed by Trafalgar Releasing, features the original Broadway stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope reprising their roles in the critically acclaimed musical, which is inspired by the Oscar-winning 1951 MGM film of the same title. To get the scoop on the musical and the film, we chatted with Cope about it.


You've been with AMERICAN IN PARIS since its beginning. Tell me what it's been like developing your character through the different iterations of the show.

It really was from the beginning because I did the workshop about four years ago now. So, the show was a lot longer then. It was almost three hours long. And, that was my first experience with speaking on stage as well. Speaking, singing, and dancing on stage, so that was pretty scary.

What was so wonderful about Paris [where the musical had a pre-Broadway run at Théâtre du Châtelet] was living and breathing this life as a Parisian woman. So, I did a lot of character research while I was there and would walk the routes that Lise would walk from Galeries Lafayette to the theater.

And, then there was Broadway, which was just the most amazing time. Again, the show changed a lot there because it became a shorter show. The Parisian audience was quite happy to sit through three hours, but in New York, it's a bit different, and you need to kind of move the story on more. So, it was more kind of chopping and changing bits of the show, but keeping its integrity there.

Finally, it moved to the West End, but it didn't change too much in the West End. I guess I just learned more about her [her character Lise Dassin], and she's definitely developed along the way. Every Jerry I got to play opposite of - and every Adam, and every Henry - brought different things out in Lise. It was a learning curve right until the very end.

Of course, making this film, it was again, learning how to make the small things count. It wasn't just about acting to some 2,000 people in the audience, it was knowing when the camera was going to be so close to you that the smaller things are more important than the bigger things. So, even right at the end, I was learning.

BWW Interview: For Evermore... Leanne Cope on Her Journey in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; In Movie Theaters on Sunday!
Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Was this your first time to do a production on film, or have you done film before?

I used to dance at The Royal Ballet, and we would do a live cinema relay where as we were performing it would be put out live to the cinemas. So, this is the first time I've done one where we shot it for three shows, and then it's been edited together.

When it's the live cinema relay, you just get on and do it. You do your show. So, this is a little bit different that you have three go's. You almost get more nervous each time knowing. But, I guess it's good, in a way, knowing that they captured the show three times from different angles and that they could edit it the best way they possibly could. So, yeah, I guess it was the first time.

Was this your first time to work with Christopher Wheeldon?

I actually first worked with Chris when I was about thirteen. He made a ballet at The Royal Ballet school when I was there. I remember it very clearly. The first rehearsal, I fell flat on my face, and I just thought, "I've ruined my chances with ever working with Christopher Wheeldon again from falling flat on my face in front of him." [Laughs] Luckily, that wasn't the case.

I worked with him again when I was about sixteen and also when I was in The Royal Ballet. I was in both of his ballets there. So, we had a working relationship, and I was quite often in his ballets. But, we definitely formed a much closer relationship with AN AMERICAN IN PARIS because I was actually allowed to talk and ask questions, whereas in a ballet studio you very much have to do as you're told. You are not really allowed to ask questions of why or why am I doing this. So, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has built our relationship a lot more. It was his first journey into directing and my first journey into acting, so it was nice to do that together.

BWW Interview: For Evermore... Leanne Cope on Her Journey in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; In Movie Theaters on Sunday!
Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild in
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Awesome! Unlike the other projects, he was also setting this choreography for you, and for your skills. What was that like?

It's, well, definitely every dancer's dream to have something choreographed for them. But, I'm guessing every theater actress dreams of having a role made for them as well. To be in a original cast is a dream come true. To be the first ever lead - other than Leslie Caron from the movie - will always be very special to me. It was great to have that working relationship with Christopher, and not only Christopher, with Craig Lucas, the writer, as well. And with Rob Fisher, who was kind of acting as the Gershwins in the music department. And with Robbie Fairchild. We all worked very well together, and we were quite open with each other when we felt things didn't work, or did work, and it was very much a collaboration, which is everything you can ask for really.

BWW Interview: For Evermore... Leanne Cope on Her Journey in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; In Movie Theaters on Sunday!
Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.
Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Looking forward to the film release, what are you the most excited about with it being in theaters?

I think, for me, the most exciting thing is the fact that it can reach so many people. Not everyone can afford to get to the West End, or to Broadway, though it's wonderful that the touring company has gotten around so much in North America. But, for people to actually be able to go to movie theaters, it makes musical theater and theater in general, more accessible to everyone. For me, the exciting thing is to reach that wide of an audience. I hope that they fall with musical theater, or with ballet, or whatever they take from it. Hopefully, people might bring their children along, so it could be their first experience of theater, and they fall in love with it, and hopefully they'll become theater goers themselves. So, for me, the most exciting thing is introducing a whole new audience to something they've never seen before.

Is the last foray into musical theater for you, or are you considering doing other roles?

There is something potentially coming up next year in London which I've been offered. I'm not allowed to say what it is right now. So, yeah, this is definitely a route I'm absolutely running down. It's absolutely been an eye-opener for me, and I love the theater community. I'm really excited about the future and hoping to be on a stage in the West End early next year in an exciting new project.

For more information about and tickets to Trafalgar Releasing's screenings of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS in U.S. movie theaters, please visit https://anamericaninpariscinema.com/.

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