‘Kinky Boots’ is coming to Penn State
The Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” will stomp into the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State next week. The show is a box office record breaker and the first musical to result in a Tony Award for best score awarded to a woman without a writing partner — that woman being ‘80s superstar Cyndi Lauper, who took her musical skills to Broadway to compose the musical.
Since the show’s Broadway opening in 2013, a host of famous faces have taken on the lead role of Charlie Price, from “American Idol” winner David Cook to Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. In the show’s North American tour, Connor Allston takes the role, which he calls “a dream role” that’s “been on my radar for years.”
“Kinky Boots” follows Charlie’s story after his sudden inheritance of a bankrupt shoe factory, after which he tries to turn the failing business around with the help of a fabulous drag queen, on the way discovering himself and his relationship to those around him.
“Charlie is closer to who I am as a person than other roles I’ve had,” Allston says. “It’s easier for me to drop into (the character of) Charlie. He’s more reserved. He doesn’t like to be confrontational. ... I take a little inspiration from the Charlie’s that have come before, but I do my best to put my own sort of twists on the role.”
When Allston first saw the show years ago, he said he didn’t know much about it but had listened to the music and felt inspired and elated.
“It’s really a blessing to be able to (now) have that effect on other people,” he said.
In fact, Allston thinks that might be the best way to see the show — walking into it not knowing anything about it, and then walking out elated from the experience. Seeing that audience response is one of his favorite things about the production, as is hearing about people’s experiences with the show, whether it’s their first time seeing it, or their second or third time.
Allston said he’s found that audience members come from all different backgrounds and demographics, including people who have no previous experience with musical theater.
“We have a famous line from the show, ‘You change the world when you change your mind.’ When the audience walks away, (I want them) to change their mind about certain things and accept the things they’re a little afraid of, that are out of their comfort zones,” he said. “(Take) a page out of Charlie’s book and accept yourself in order to accept others. I hope when the audience walks away from the show, they’re one step closer to doing that.”
If you go
What: “Kinky Boots”
When: 7:30 p.m. April 9-10
Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park