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Touchdown from Broadway: An Interview with the Fabulous Angels and Female Leads of Kinky Boots

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For the first time ever, multi-award winning musical Kinky Boots will be staged in Singapore! Written by theatre veteran Harvey Fierstein with music by the legendary Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots plays at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands for just two weekends. The raucous but heartwarming musical tells the story of the fictitious Price & Son shoe factory, as newly crowned owner Charlie Price attempts to save it. Little does he know that help will come in the most unexpected of ways, as a chance encounter with the fabulous Lola might just be the answer, and the start of a beautiful friendship.

With the cast and crew just having touched down, it’s been a whirlwind affair for the touring team, who hail direct from Broadway, and are currently on the Asian leg of their tour. We got a chance to speak to some of them – the incredible Angels, two of whom are played by Derek Brazeau and Philip Stock, and the female leads of Kinky Boots, Hayley Lampart and Sydney Patrick.

The roles of the Angels, while primarily part of the ensemble, are certainly not easy ones, with the cast lacing up their crazy tall thigh high boots and having to always appear their glamorous best each time they step out onstage to perform a dazzling number. Says Derek: “There’s a lot of practice that goes into it, whether it’s learning to dance in high heels or doing our makeup. It helps that we spend all our time together, go onstage together, exit together, and there’s not a moment we aren’t apart. We tell jokes, we sing together, and we really work well together as a team.”

On the expectations one should have before catching Kinky Boots, Sydney says: “It’s obviously very fun, flashy and glamorous, but at its heart, is a story of acceptance and love. I think people should come in with an open mind, and it’s fascinating because there’s really so few musicals with a drag queen as a main character. It has so many ups and downs, telling a story of people discovering themselves, and people should come in and experience the show with an open mind.”

He continues: “While the ‘conservative’ Singapore audience may not be quite what we’re used to, we’re very excited to bring this show here. We were pleasantly surprised by Shanghai, where there were some fans who’d end up coming for 9-10 shows, just living in the moment and continually feeding off the energy we gave out.”

On their start in showbiz, Derek says: “I started in showbiz kinda young, maybe in 4th grade. Theatre has always been something I was around but didn’t really start considering as a career until high school.”

Says Philip: “I started quite late, and I was originally a clarinet player in high school. But in college I tried out show choir, and started learning how to do a little dance while singing, and now it’s been about 7 years since I’ve been performing onstage!”

On the touring life, Derek elaborates: “While some tours let you go to a city for 2-3 weeks, the first time we did a US tour, there were times we were only in some cities for a single night, and we really had to step up the publicity efforts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but whether you have 10 people or 10,000, there’s always a positive reaction in the audience. It’s such a powerful message of love and acceptance, and you end up leaving the theatre so energized after the last number, that you can’t help but sing and dance along and really, have a good time.”

Meanwhile, leading ladies Hayley Lampart and Sydney Patrick are just as enthusiastic as the Angels are, with Hayley taking on the role of Charlie’s fiance Nicola, and Sydney taking on the role of Lauren, a factory worker who begins to take a romantic interest in Charlie later on. Says Hayley: “Nicola is a character who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. She may come across as snappy, but I think she’s like this because she cares so much and loves Charlie, and she’s so frustrated because it looks like he’s ready to throw it all away. She’s a great female figure for women, and ultimately, she’s someone who knows that she doesn’t always have to follow her man, just follow her heart.”

On her character, Sydney says: “The conflict Charlie is going through is so difficult, and Lauren arrives on the scene to keep him levelheaded and find a solution. You know, you can’t help who you fall for, but Lauren’s arc is about more than just chasing Charlie – it’s about about being a friend for him to the very end, no matter what.”

Both ladies have been involved in music and theatre for a long time, with Hayley having been trained at the Academy of Theatre Arts in Buffalo, New York since the age of 8, and Sydney growing up with both parents as musicians and growing up in an artistic household. Says Hayley: It’s unpredictable and scary not to know when the next job is, but it’s been such a blessing to be getting so much work. My first job had me travelling 50 countries while performing on a cruise ship, and now I’m finally back in Asia again. It’s such an amazing experience and I want to just keep doing this.”

She continues: “I mean, how often do you get a job where you’re basically paid to travel and do what you love? During these gigs, you make lifelong friends with the entire cast, and they keep your spirits high and excited about life, which is so important, especially when there are times you end up travelling for days without sleep. They feel like family, and I will always be there for them.”

On the scene that most speaks to her, Hayley says: “While the breakup scene with Charlie means a lot to me, I also love ‘Not My Father’s Son’, when Lola and Charlie really connect because they’ve both been neglected by their fathers. It’s a beautiful scene to watch and always gets me emotional.”

Says Sydney: “You know, getting into these boots, it’s tough, so tough that it’s almost like you can’t bend you knee, yet you have to train your body in a certain way to make it look comfortable. It’s part of being an actor of course, and now I think these are the coolest boots ever – no other shoe compares to them. They’re really like how both these characters are so knowing, they aren’t afraid of being who they are and speaking their mind. They don’t sugarcoat anything, and it’s no wonder Charlie is so attracted to them both, since they both ground him, but in very different ways.”

She concludes: “I was reading an article about Pink Dot and I got so emotional at how there are so many people here who still need to feel at home and express themselves the way they want. No one can tell anyone else how to live, and Kinky Boots is really all about just being yourself, be it choosing your hair, your shoes or your lifestyle. This open-mindedness, it’s contagious, and that’s the message we really hope to bring across to Singapore with this musical.”

Kinky Boots plays at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from 5th – 14th October. Tickets available from SISTIC

 

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