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12 Dec. 2014

KINKY BOOTS, high stepping til Dec. 28 SF’s Orpheum Theatre


My first introduction to KINKY BOOTS–the acclaimed musical production–was via the 2005 film starring Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), who delivered a most memorable portrayal as Lola.

Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as "Lola" in 2005 film version of KINKY BOOTS

Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as “Lola” in 2005 film version of KINKY BOOTS

KINKY BOOTS is the exhilarating Broadway musical, winner of six Tony Awards® including Best Musical, an inspirational story that follows a struggling shoe factory owner who works to turn his business around with help from Lola, a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. Together, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… proving that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

Inspired by a true story, KINKY BOOTS features a Tony-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, direction and Tony-winning choreography by Jerry Mitchell and book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein.

Last year, when I sat with Ejiofor (Amistad, Talk To Me) to discuss 12 YEARS A SLAVE, I asked him about the Broadway version of KINKY BOOTS, further, if he thought it would have the tremendous success its experiencing. “I thought it was a great idea when they told me that they were going to take in to the stage; I actually had a meeting with the director–who I think as a courtesy more than anything– asked me what I thought about it and whether in some universe I’d be able to see myself on stage with it. I responded saying, ‘Listen, if I try and dance on stage in heels I will kill myself. I will hurt myself very badly.’ I let him know that at the time it wouldn’t give me nightmares to try … but, I’m so glad that they were able to do that, bring it to stage. I think it was a terrific idea and I think it’s brilliant that they’ve been so successful.”

Kyle Taylor Parker as "Lola" in the TONY Award-winning Broadway musical, KINKY BOOTS, now on tour

Kyle Taylor Parker as “Lola” in the TONY Award-winning Broadway musical, KINKY BOOTS, now on tour

Today’s iteration features KYLE TAYLOR PARKER (Lola), the star of KINKY BOOTS, who is a member of the original Broadway company and no stranger to what happens when you combine high heels and huge heart!

I spoke with Parker in San Francisco about his starring role–

Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: On becoming Lola, is there a ritual you go through–other than the makeup–to become the character?

Parker: It takes an hour to become Lola in the makeup chair. As you watch yourself transform into the character, you no longer see yourself rather you see the character, Lola. Within that space of one hour, I meditate to take my mind where it’s supposed to be.

The character is so full and it’s a role that allows me to be a type of superhero: she represents bravery and loyalty as well as the ability to be vulnerable.  As an actor, it is rare to get a character as broad as Lola is, particularly as an African American actor.

Talk2SV: The physicality of the character is highly energetic–you appear to be quite healthy and fit—what is your fitness regime?

Parker: I work out.  We also have a physical therapist that travels with the show to help us get the kinks out especially working in high heels.  Basically, my work outs, eating well and working with the therapist keeps me in shape for Lola.

A sorted array of vivacious custom-made footwear costars in KINKY BOOTS

A sorted array of vivacious custom-made footwear costars in KINKY BOOTS

Talk2SV: KINKY BOOTS focuses on shoes, boots as it were, many of them 6-inch heels.  Was it difficult to adjust?

Parker: You just do what you have to do; it’s part of the job. Initially, I trained and had my girlfriend teach me how to dance in heels.

Talk2SV: Before getting this role, how much of a shoe horse were you?

Parker: Not really, I wear sneakers and every now and then a pair of dress shoes (laughter). I have a tremendous amount of respect for women that can wear a fierce heel.

About the author

Sandra Varner has had her hands on the pulse of the entertainment industry and lifestyles coverage for decades, staying current, always.

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