The Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical An American in Paris makes it first-ever appearance in Kansas City this week. There’s something else about this touring production that might be another first: identical twins performing together on the Starlight Theatre stage!
Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty grew up in a small town in south Maine. They studied dance together from a very young age, continued through high school and joined the Miami City Ballet where they danced together for almost a decade.
“We were very theatrical kids and would always put on little plays together,” Leigh-Ann said. “The best thing about being a twin was that we always had each other. You always had someone to play with and were never alone.”
In 2014, however, the dancing duo took different paths. Sara auditioned for the Broadway-bound musical An American in Paris, and Leigh-Ann stayed at the Miami City Ballet. Sara would spend the next two years performing as the understudy to lead role Lise with An American in Paris, which opened in Paris and played for nearly two years on Broadway. This was the first time the Esty sisters were apart for an extended period and they grew as individuals.
After being apart and missing one another, things quickly came back together for the sisters. Sara went from understudying Lise in An American in Paris on Broadway to taking on the lead role full-time for the North American tour. Her promotion in the cast left the understudy role vacant.
“When they offered me the tour, they said, ‘I wish we could clone you,’” Sara said. “And I said, ‘It’s funny you should say that!’” She had a great idea in mind.
When the producers began casting the North American tour, Sara urged her sister to audition. Landing the part, Leigh-Ann became an ensemble member and Lise’s alternate, performing for Sara once or twice each week. The sisters have been touring North America since October 2016 and couldn’t be more excited to spend their time together.
“Sometimes I still look at Sara and say, ‘Can you believe this is happening?!’” Leigh-Ann said.
Oui, we can!
An American in Paris graces Starlight’s stage with performances through Sunday, July 16, so there is still time to see the Esty twins’ perform the musical’s award-winning choreography. Tickets are available at kcstarlight.com/Paris or 816-363-7827.
Behind the Scenes with Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty
They may be identical on the outside, but there are definite differences! See the twins’ responses to a few questions.
Sara: Light turquoise
Leigh-Ann: Red or forest green
Leigh-Ann: Classics like Motown, Frankie Valli, Billy Joel (We’ve seen Billy Joel in concert four times!)
Sara: Everything except hard-core ‘twangy’ country
Least favorite thing about being a twin (as a child)?
Sara: We had to share a birthday! Sorry, sis.
Leigh-Ann: We had to share and make sure everything was even.
If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be doing professionally?
Leigh-Ann: A photographer
Sara: A skier or some sort of athlete
All-time favorite musical performance you’ve done?
Sara: A piece called “In The Upper Room” – it called for two girls (me and Leigh-Ann) to do the same steps across the stage, to constantly move in unison.
Leigh-Ann: The end ballet in An American in Paris is exhilarating and the culmination of the entire show