By MORGAN STEWARD
Editor in Chief
Emma Copp, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’17, spent part of her last day in New York City in the Ram Cafe eating chocolate chip cookie dough Dippin’ Dots ice cream instead of packing up her apartment. In less than 24 hours, Copp would be on her way to Pennsylvania to begin the first leg of the “Pinkalicious” and “Flight School” U.S. tour, her first professional theater job post-college. While enjoying the free sweet treat and unusually warm October weather, Copp and I spoke about her newest theater venture, her defining moments on stage thus far and how Fordham helped prepare her to achieve her dreams of becoming a professional actor.
Those who know Copp know that her personality is bright, bubbly and infectious–a trio that makes her perfect for the cast of the children’s musicals “Pinkalicious” and “Flight School.” In “Pinkalicious,” Copp doubles as Allison, the best friend of protagonist Pinkalicious who turns pink after eating one too many pink cupcakes, and Dr. Wink, the pediatrician who diagnoses Pinkalicious with “Pinkititus” and tells Pinkalicious to eat green food to stop being pink. “Flight School” has Copp taking on a slightly different type of character, this time a penguin who longs to learn how to fly like other birds.
“I’m doing this because I love performing and I love theatre and music,” Copp said. “To be able to share that and see young people realize that they can love it too and share what might be their first experience with theatre is really cool.”
Before getting hired to do this job, Copp was working a total of six odds jobs, making for one crazy schedule in the midst of attending countless auditions. “[Performing] is an interesting life to set yourself up for. I feel very lucky considering how quickly this set up post-graduation…I had a plan for what was going to happen,” Copp explained. She had the foreseeable future planned out “to a T–like this little machine.” Come August, however, Copp realized she would have to quit those six jobs. “Yeah, post-grad is strange and scary.”
Although Fordham does not have a designated musical theater track, Copp felt as if her time here as a student helped prepare her for entering the performing arts job market post graduation. Graduating with a BA in Music, she spent her four years taking vocal and music theory lessons within the major here at Fordham, while also opting to take ear-training classes at Juilliard as part of the Juilliard exchange program. Copp also supplemented her professional training with club activities, participating in Mimes and Mummers, The F Sharps and Splinter Group on campus to get extra musical theater practice in.
Copp’s hard work paid off. She informed me that she will be serving as the vocal captain for both shows on tour. “I think that’s kind of a testament to having a background in music. Maybe I wasn’t at as much of an advantage not having studied theatre as professionally, but I was like ‘Okay, this is something that I have prepared for,’” she said.
Funnily enough, while this is Copp’s first professional gig as an actress, “Flight School” is not her first run in with songs about flightless birds. For her senior capstone project for the Honors Program, Copp wrote “Birdgirl,” an original children’s musical. “[Birdgirl was] obviously on a way smaller scale than what I’m doing now, but having that under my belt first of all helped solidify my interest and helped me solidify what I wanted to do and the kinds of jobs I wanted to look out for, but… I was also able to throw that out as I was leaving the audition room,” Copp laughed. “I was like ‘Oh my God, this material is so funny for me because I wrote a children’s musical that had a song about flightless birds.’”
While Copp has come to love family theater and uses her small frame and stature to her advantage, she didn’t always find comfort in being pegged as the young one. “For a while, I was kind of annoyed at being pigeonholed like ‘Ah, I’m a little person and I look young, I’m going to do this forever and nobody thinks I can do anything else.’ But it’s honestly a blast. There is dimension to family shows. It’s not all kitsch.”
Copp set down her now empty ice cream container and smiled, radiating happiness and joy. She is living proof that pursuing what you love, in this case musical theater, can lead to unexpected results. Who knows, the next time we see Copp, her name might be in lights on a Broadway marquee. Until then, we’ll have to settle for watching her bring joy to children all over the country.