Kinky Boots is Back

Six cast members share what this iconic show means to them

By Seth Reines, February 2018 Issue

Kinky Boots is back! Last seen at ASU Gammage in 2014, the Tony Award-winning musical will take the stage at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre from Feb. 16 to 18.

Inspired by a true story (and the 2005 British film by the same name), Kinky Boots is the story of Charlie Price, a young shoe factory owner who is struggling to save his late father’s business. Enter Lola, a fabulous drag queen in need of sturdy stilettos. Charlie and Lola form a partnership that ultimately saves the business and teaches audiences the messages of tolerance and acceptance.

Echo caught up with the cast of Kinky Boots ahead of the Phoenix tour dates to find out what this show means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

Daniel Joseph Baker

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, Kinky Boots affected me deeply when I first saw it. To see an unabashed portrayal of acceptance be received the way it was by a large audience of all types of people made me so happy. I was living in LA … when I saw Kinky Boots for the first time and it actually inspired my move into musical theatre. I knew that I could be myself in this show and from that moment on I knew wanted to be a part of it one day.”

 

Eric Stanton Betts

“I believe what’s glorious about this show is that, while there is an underlying perception of ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ themes, it is never ever explicitly talked about or even said out loud. Beyond that, you have every type of person on stage that every audience member can relate to. They can see a factory worker’s heart and mind change simultaneously as their own changes over the course of the story.”

 

 

Tyler Jent

“Performing as a drag queen in this show has taught me a lot about self-love. Growing up gay and closeted was really challenging, especially during puberty. Once boys began to experience testosterone, they used their masculinity as a weapon. Their own insecurities brought them to attack anyone who was not as ‘masculine’ as everyone else. This led me to really suppress my natural femininity that I believe all heterosexual and LGBTQ+ people experience. Touring around the country as a woman has allowed me to embrace my feminine beauty. When I leave the show, I feel a balance of my femininity and masculinity. I feel whole. I feel beautiful.”

 

Andrew Malone

“In October, I had the honor of stepping into the stunning heels of ‘La-La-Lola!’ And because of my excitement, I’ve posted all over social media of me in makeup, dresses, and fabulous wigs; in full beat, honey! Well, somehow the pictures got around to a very respected cousin who strictly follows the religious traditions in my family. He texted (in short), ‘God is not pleased.’

… being a person who proudly practices my family traditions and spirituality, [I] was at a crossroads of emotions; I could either be the victim or the victor. I confidently responded (in short), ‘Thank you for your concern. I love you.’ Lola, these characters, this story … has taught me to proudly stand up for what I believe in, and become the change I want to see.

My cousin noticed that I’m not backing down – my heels are waaaay too high, and he sweetly responded, ‘I love you, too.’ It all begins from within.”

 

Madison Pugh

“I find that Kinky Boots provides a great way to open a dialogue about a lot of LGBTQ issues. Early on in the tour, there was a group of four teenagers at the stage door and I got to speak to them for a moment. They confessed to me that they were all in the LGBTQ community and had pooled their money together to buy tickets to the show. They began to talk animatedly about how they wanted to recreate Lola’s red finale dress – a couple of them could sew.

Then, one of the group said that she wanted to wear Charlie’s finale outfit to her homecoming dance. I laughed and said that her school might not be willing to let someone wear boxers and thigh high boots for homecoming. She said her school would probably have a harder time reconciling a girl wearing a blazer.

That one moment chilled me and made me realize that though we’ve come a long way with LGBTQ rights, there is still so much left to do and to discover. I wouldn’t have been able to talk to these teenagers about this issue if it weren’t for Kinky Boots.”

 

Ernest Terrelle Williams

“I am now 22 years old and came out of the closet as gay when I was 16. Even though I began my journey as an out gay man a few years ago, I never saw myself in heels or in makeup or a wig, and that’s because my upbringing never allowed me to venture outside of the toxic masculinity that I was brought up on. It just feels natural doing what I’m doing in this show. It’s like the last puzzle piece putting together who I am and how I want to live MY life.”

 


Kinky Boots
Feb. 16-18
Orpheum Theatre
203. W. Adams St., Phoenix
broadwayorpheum.com