Eloise Kropp Is Tapping Towards Stardom
Broadway baby Eloise Kropp is living the dream. After making her Great White Way debut in the ensemble of On the Town in 2014 and landing a leading role in 2015's Dames at Sea, she's now in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's beloved CATS. As Jennyanydots, the cat who lounges in sunbeams all day but comes alive at night, 25-year-old Kropp brings an irrepressibly bubbly spirit to the production's only tap number. Watching her in action, there's no question that she was born to wear tap shoes. "I never imagined being a tapper on Broadway," she says, "but the timing has been so serendipitous. Tap has really made a comeback in musical theater. It makes me so happy to see other people loving it as much as I do."
Kropp's journey from student to rising star wasn't always easy. After leaving college early for an opportunity that didn't pan out, she spent a year and a half auditioning, doing regional gigs and taking on odd jobs before booking On the Town. She's learned firsthand that in the Broadway world, perseverance pays off.
Her Hardworking History
Kropp grew up in Edmond, OK, and trained at local studio Dance Unlimited. She started studying tap at age 8, and picked up jazz at 10 and ballet at 11. In middle school, she added acting lessons, after dance teacher and studio owner Amy Reynolds Reed's husband opened an acting academy.
Reed remembers young Kropp as having a great sense of humor, but also as being a perfectionist. "She was always prepared, and willing to try anything I asked," Reed says. "I'd say, 'Take this master class,' or 'Go to this convention,' and she was game." Since Kropp started ballet relatively late, Reed says, "she knew she had catching up to do. But she wasn't afraid of the work."
In high school, Kropp attended a life-changing intensive: Broadway Theater Dance Workshop, hosted by the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. "That summer was when I started thinking I could do this as a profession," she says. "I went from being a sophomore who wanted to be a doctor to a junior who was applying to musical theater programs."
She enrolled at the University of Oklahoma as a musical theater major. "Out of all the programs I applied to, that one felt the most well-rounded," she says. "We took acting classes with acting majors, dance classes with dance majors, and also had our own musical theater repertory classes." It was a great fit—until Broadway came calling.
Her Big Break…Almost
In 2012, between her sophomore and junior years at OKCU, Kropp performed in a regional production of Carousel at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT. Because of the theater's proximity to NYC, the show attracted industry insiders. Two weeks before Kropp was set to return to school, she got a call from a casting company, asking her to sing for the music director of the Broadway production of Tuck Everlasting. "I went, and then I didn't hear from them again until I was back in Oklahoma," she says. "They wanted me for the show—so I had to convince my parents to let me move to New York!"
Unfortunately, Tuck Everlasting ended up "spiraling down a hole," Kropp says. "Its producers dropped out, it lost funding, and it couldn't find a theater." (The show did eventually reach the Great White Way in 2016.) Despite her disappointment at the setback, Kropp decided to stay in NYC and give auditioning a shot.
"I spent the first six months just taking it all in," she says. "I was 20 years old, in auditions with these veterans who knew themselves and knew the theater world." Her learning curve included becoming more aware of her niche. "I love tap and I love old movie musicals, and it shows," she says. When the revival of On the Town came along in 2014, "it felt so perfect. It was absolutely my style."
Her Bright Future
Period pieces like On the Town and Dames at Sea make complete sense for Kropp, with her ingénue looks and classic tap skills. So how did she end up sporting one of musical theater's most iconic unitards? "CATS is one of those shows I never thought I'd do," she admits. "But the creative team kept calling me back. The joke was, they wanted me, but didn't know where to put me!"
"Sometimes you meet someone at an audition, and there's no way they can't get the job," says CATS choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. "That's how I felt about Eloise. Her technique is fabulous, but there's also a joy about her—a spark. There's an urgency in her dancing, like life is exploding out of her."
Blankenbuehler had originally envisioned a different type for Jennyanydots, but ended up building the role around Kropp. "Her number is a wholesale change from the old production," he says. "Since we were starting from scratch, we were able to experiment with the choreography. She and I were on the same wavelength. I know this is only the first show we'll do together."
Although she has a featured role, Kropp's favorite thing about CATS is its ensemble feel. "We're all supporting each other," she says. "We elevate each other to a level we wouldn't be able to achieve on our own."
What's next for this Broadway beauty? "That's a question I ask myself every day," Kropp says. In addition to eventually completing her college degree, she could see herself helping to adapt more vintage movie musicals to the stage, branching out into film and television, and traveling the world. "The last thing I want to do is settle," she says. "I'm constantly trying to find new ways to stretch and grow."
Birthday: June 23, 1992
Favorite color: Navy blue
Favorite foods: Peanut butter and chocolate
Favorite dance flicks: Easter Parade and Hello, Dolly!
Dream dance partner: Gene Kelly
Favorite tap step: "The time step. It's so versatile; you can do anything with it."
Most embarrassing onstage moment: "In On the Town, there was a number called 'Lucky to Be Me,' where we did a soft-shoe with Tony Yazbeck, who played Gabey. Once, I fell flat on my face, right behind him. The entire cast was sob-laughing!"
Eloise in three emojis: 😹🐶👵
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