80s star reveals love of stage show.. and Edinburgh
“The show belongs in the UK since it’s a UK story. I’m so happy people across the UK will be able to see it.”
On paper, Kinky Boots is not an obvious musical, never mind a critical and box office phenomenon.
Inspired by a true story and adapted from a 2005 film, it tells the story of a struggling Northampton shoe factory owner, whose business is saved when a chance encounter betwe en the b o s s a nd a cross-dressing cabaret singer sees them producing erotic footwear.
New Yorker Cyndi, 65, whose other hits include True Colours and Time After Time, was washing the dishes when she got a call from actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein asking her to get involved.
She said: “It appealed to me on many levels. I’ve always related to drag queens because I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life – and I love to dress up.
“An important part of the story is about the father- son relationship and how it affects us and, as the mother of a son, I related to that storyl ine too. Plus, it’s just so uplifting and joyful.
“I’ve been involved with the show for almost a decade. It was daunting because I’d never written for a musical before but I felt ready for this specific project.”
If Kinky Boots has enjoyed spectacular success, it’s also been a personal triumph. In 2013, Cyndi became the first solo woman to win the Tony for Best Original Score.
It was another addition to a series of personal accolades which include Grammys, an Emmy, a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and album sales in excess of 50million.
But the latest one meant a great deal to the singer, who is a vocal campaigner for LGBTQ rights.
She said: “It meant so much to be the first solo woman to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score – but it should have happened long before 2013.
“I really did feel embraced by the Broadway community in a way that means so much to me, since New York has always been my home and they’ve accepted me in a way I never quite felt in the music industry.
“By the time the show closes on Broadway, we’ll be the 25th longestrunning musical in Broadway history and the show has played in nine countries on four continents.”
She believes the appeal of the show, which will be at the Playhouse until January 5 and features a cast including Callum Francis, Kayi Ushe, Paula Lane and Joel HarperJackson, is that it has something for everyone.
She said: “It’s so joyous and fun and I think, these days, we could all use a little joy and fun.
“But it’s also universal. There are elements in the story that everyone can relate to – we all have complicated relationships with our parents or had to follow a path they wanted for us or have encountered people who are different from us and not known quite how to act.
“So I think even the sceptics who think they don’t want to see the show come out loving it and dancing in the aisles – and, hopefully, they also leave the show a little more tolerant.”
Cyndi, who has been married to actor David Thornton since 1991, with whom she has a son, Declyn, still keeps an eye on the show at home in New York.
She said: “I’ll stand in the back of the Hirschfeld Theatre from time to time. I want to make sure all of the productions sound and look as good as the original Broadway show did on opening night.”
Her attention, however, will be divided going forward, as she is hard at work on her next musical theatre project, which is taking her back to her 80s roots.
She is adapting 1988 movie Working Girl, which starred Melanie Gr i f f ith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver, for the stage.
Cyndi said: “It’s sti l l in the relatively early stages but hopefully it will be on Broadway one day in the not too distant future. And maybe one day in the UK.”
EXCITED Cyndi poses with the West End cast of her show in May HAIR RAISER With Rod Stewart in August
TRUE COLOURS Singer Cyndi in 1993