Getting Into Character With Kinky Boots’ Joey Taranto

Photo Features   Getting Into Character With Kinky Boots’ Joey Taranto
 
The actor, starring as one of the drag queens in the Tony Award-winning musical, gives Playbill an exclusive look inside his pre-show makeup process.
Joey Taranto
Joey Taranto Marc J. Franklin

By the time Kinky Boots’ Joey Taranto takes his place in front of the audience on the Al Hirschfeld stage, a completely different person is standing in the theatre than the one who walked in an hour before. Performing as one of the show’s Angels, the group of drag queens who bring the ferocity to Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Tony Award-winning musical, Taranto’s process of getting into character starts from the outside in.

“Honestly, I paint my character on my face!” Taranto says with a laugh. “I’m an actor playing a drag queen, so putting the makeup on, laughing with the other Angels, and then seeing yourself in full drag—you don’t get much more immersed than that!”

In his dressing room, armed with a brush and makeup sponge, Taranto methodically paints his face, creating the arched eyebrows, contoured cheekbones, and red lips that comprise his character.

“In drag, it’s just a heightened a sense of being. The makeup, the wigs, the heels, they literally heighten me,” the actor notes. It’s a lot of work to make his Angel come to life but Taranto relishes it. “It’s a blessing. I love what I do and I’ve worked really hard to get here. Every Sunday [at the end of the week], I always look out the audience and I think, ‘This is my dream and I’m doing it right now.’”

Flip through Taranto’s makeup process below:

The winner of six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a Tony-winning score by Lauper, a book by Tony winner Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell. The Broadway production is scheduled to run through April 7.

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