Westport grad stars in new FOX series 'The Big Leap'

WESTPORT — Adam Kaplan wonders what the neighbors think.

As part of his role on the new FOX series “The Big Leap,” the Staples High School grad needed training for the dance-themed show. But, in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the classes Kaplan, 31, took were virtual via Zoom.

So he rolled up the rug in his New York apartment and leaped, spun and swayed as if no one was watching. However, Kaplan said, people were probably watching.

“I’m sure my neighbors saw me and thought, ‘What is this guy doing?’ ” Kaplan said in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media.

Little did they know that the one-man dance routine was part of the training for his role on “The Big Leap” as Simon Lovewell, a young man who auditions for a dance reality show with his twin sister.

Kaplan is a Broadway veteran, having made his debut in 2013 in the lead role of Jack Kelly in the stage version of “Newsies!” He recently starred as Calogero opposite Chazz Palminteri in the hit musical “A Bronx Tale.”

“The Big Leap”is Kaplan’s first stint as a regular on a television series. He said he first learned about the project about a year ago and almost immediately became “obsessed” with being part of it.

“I read the script and found myself laughing out loud and tearing up,” he said.

In the pandemic age, a lot of the audition process was virtual, but, eventually, Kaplan landed the part. The show is packed with TV veterans, including Scott Foley, Piper Perabo, Teri Polo and Nora Dunn. Kaplan said one of the best things about the series is being part of such a large ensemble.

“I think that being on stage and my dance background and everything kind of prepared me for this,” he said.

Kaplan also credited his upbringing in Westport and his time at Staples for at least some of his success. He was a member of the Staples Players — the high school’s student-run theater organization — and said that helped give him the skills and confidence he needed as an aspiring entertainer.

“I think what the Staples Players and Westport school system instilled in me was the sense of hard work and commitment it takes to make something happen,” Kaplan said. “What (they) did for me is really nurture me as an artist and encourage me to pursue that beyond high school.”

He said he’s excited for this next phase of his career, and for people to watch his new project. His character is only briefly appears in the pilot — mainly in a pair of mostly comedic scenes involving him interacting with his sister. But, Kaplan said, the character develops as the show goes on.

“You learn more about Simon and his twin sister and their backstory,” Kaplan said. “It’s so much fun to play and pull those layers back. The show is about second chances. It’s a feel good show at a time that can be so heavy.”

“The Big Leap” airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on FOX.