Misty Copeland calls Broad­way de­but ‘in­cred­i­ble’


The stage lights have been hard to get used to and she wor­ried about lim­ited re­hearsal time, but bal­le­rina Misty Copeland has put aside her ner­vous­ness and is find­ing her feet on Broad­way.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing,” she said this week af­ter mak­ing her de­but in the dance-heavy mu­si­cal “On the Town” at the Lyric Theatre. “I felt ner­vous that I was go­ing to for­get stuff, which I don’t typ­i­cally feel. We re­hearse so much as bal­let dancers and the steps be­come in­grained in your mus­cle mem­ory.”

Copeland is play­ing Miss Turn­stiles, a love in­ter­est for one of three sailors en­joy­ing a few hours of shore leave in 1940s New York. The role re­quires both act­ing and singing, in ad­di­tion to plenty of danc­ing, in­clud­ing a 15-minute bal­let at the end. The part was orig­i­nally done by Me­gan Fairchild, a prin­ci­pal dancer at the pres­ti­gious New York City Bal­let.

Copeland, who re­cently be­came the first African-Amer­i­can woman to be a prin­ci­pal dancer at Amer­i­can Bal­let Theatre, had only six re­hearsals and sang her di­a­logue out loud only twice be­fore go­ing on, but each time she ap­peared the crowd went wild, cheer­ing her en­trances, big num­bers and giv­ing her a thun­der­ous stand­ing ova­tion at the end. The au­di­ence was more di­verse and young.

“The au­di­ence is so dif­fer­ent from what I’m used to. You know im- me­di­ately that they are ex­cited to be here, and it’s an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing. I just felt so over­whelmed — that first en­trance and through­out,” she said.

Copeland ad­mit­ted to feel­ing pres­sure be­fore her de­but Tues­day, but said she en­joyed her­self more Wed­nes­day, af­ter get­ting that first per­for­mance be­hind her.

“I re­mem­bered all the steps, but I wasn’t happy with Miss Turn­stiles. But I was happy with how ev­ery­thing else went. The lights are very dif­fer­ent on this stage — they’re a lot stronger,” she said. “But I’m al­ready start­ing to ad­just and get used to it.”

“On the Town,” which was crit­i­cally ac­claimed when it opened in Oc­to­ber, has strug­gled to fill its enor­mous, 1,874-seat theater. It closes on Sept. 6, which will also be Copeland’s last per­for­mance.

“I’m so sad that the show is leav­ing. I hope at some point it comes back or trav­els. It’s such an en­ter­tain­ing and spec­tac­u­lar pro­duc­tion,” she said.

Copeland said she goes to the stage door af­ter ev­ery per­for­mance and hopes the crowds will fol­low her back up­town to the city’s bal­let venues.

“It’s such a great crowd and I hope that me step­ping into this at­mos­phere will make them feel that they’re in­vited to come into my home,” she said.


This photo pro­vided by Joan Mar­cus on Fri­day, Aug. 28 shows bal­le­rina Misty Copeland in the mu­si­cal “On the Town” at the Lyric Theatre.

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