A new American TV offering takes the stage, inspired by an overseas doc

The Big LeapCTVThe show’s title pretty much says it: an ensemble of actors, some familiar and others relative newcomers, are ready to take The Big Leap.

In a rare instance of a documentary (in this case, England’s Big Ballet) inspiring a U.S. TV drama, Fox’s star-studded series sees people from various backgrounds, with various personal struggles, compete on a reality show for roles in a modern version of Tchaikovsky’s legendary ballet Swan Lake.

Scott Foley (Scandal) plays a producer trying to move past his own recent personal and professional setbacks as he and a choreographer (Mallory Jansen) tackle this new project.

Among the contenders: a business-woman (Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs); an ex-ballerina (Teri Polo, The Fosters); a once-aspiring dancer (Simone Recasner) and her former partner (Raymond Cham, Jr.); a troubled pro football player (Ser’Darius Blain); and a ballroom dancer (Anna Grace Barlow) and her twin brother (Jon Rudnitsky). Kevin Daniels plays the ex-dancer who devises the contest, while behind the scenes, The Big Leap’s masterminds include Liz Heldens (Friday Night Lights) and Jason Winer (Modern Family).

The Big LeapCTV“I’ve got my hand in all the storylines here,” Foley notes, “because playing the producer who’s putting the show together, I’m sort of the puppet master, the wizard behind the curtain. It’s really interesting for me to dip my toe into one story, then pop out and dip into another one.”

Meanwhile, Perabo says she’s “really excited to be doing something with dance again” after her breakout 2000 hit Coyote Ugly. “When this came up during a really difficult part of the pandemic, I was just so happy to read something positive about people supporting each other. Amid all of that, it was really the kind of story I wanted to tell next.”

The protoypical “showbiz producer” has been portrayed in everything from A Chorus Line to The Morning Show, but for The Big Leap, Foley had a specific role model: Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence, with whom he recently made the series Whiskey Cavalier. The actor states that he “learned a ton from him. We’ve known each other for 20 years, but I had never seen him with that much depth in regard to producing. I modelled a lot of this character on how he conducts himself, not only on-set but off-set.”

The Big LeapCTVThough her Big Leap character has to go through many tryouts, including each week she’s on the reality show, Perabo maintains, “I kind of like to audition. I know that’s a very controversial statement, since most actors dread it, but I like the opportunity to go in and show what I can do. I always wanted to be an actor when I was a kid and would have killed for an audition, so when I get one, I’m psyched.”

The Big Leap airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CTV & Fox