Kinky Boots’ Billy Porter and Stark Sands Interview Each Other About Returning to the Tony-Winning Musical

Special Features   Kinky Boots’ Billy Porter and Stark Sands Interview Each Other About Returning to the Tony-Winning Musical
 
More than two years after leaving Broadway’s smash, the original stars talk about what’s fresh this time around.
Stark Sands and Billy Porter in <i>Kinky Boots</i>
Stark Sands and Billy Porter in Kinky Boots Sean Williams

Almost five years after they first opened on Broadway, Stark Sands and Billy Porter have returned to their original roles in Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre through January 7, 2018. Porter and Sands were nominated in the same category at the Tony Awards, with Porter taking home the statue for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. While Sands departed the show January 26, 2014, Porter stayed a year longer, leaving January 25, 2015. Although Porter returns to the role only two years after his departure and Sands comes back after three, both admit this is a new and wild ride. Reunited once more, we asked Porter and Sands to chat before a Tuesday night performance of the Tony-winning Best Musical, about the owner of a failing shoe factory (Sands) whose livelihood is rescued by irrepressible drag queen Lola (Porter).

Stark Sands and Billy Porter in <i>Kinky Boots</i>
Stark Sands and Billy Porter in Kinky Boots Sean Williams

Billy Porter: All right, here’s the interview.
Stark Sands: Hi, Billy Porter.
BP: Hi, Stark Sands.
SS: Welcome to a Tuesday.
BP: Welcome to a Tuesday at the boots that are kinky. Stark, has anything changed about the show since the last time? Does it resonate more in today’s political climate?
SS: Yes, it does. The show is the same. But a lot has changed since we did it. I don’t know if you were still doing the show when there was the bathroom bill that came down. And they decided in certain states to not allow people to use the bathroom of their choice. It is definitely a different political climate than it was.
BP: What is the first thing you think when you look back on your time in the show?
SS: How far we’ve come, how far personally my performance grew over the year that I did it on Broadway. There’s a tape of this show for posterity purposes I was able to watch to prep for this. But that tape was taken early, early in the run. Watching that for this run, I was appalled at some of the choices I would make. I was doing so much extra. I did realize [back then] that you don’t need to do as much. Let the story be told, no extraneous movement. Know when to be still. Know when it’s OK to move. All those little things, physical things.
BP: What are your plans for after you leave the show?
SS: I do have a movie coming out right on December 22, The Post, directed by Mr. Steven Spielberg.
BP: Yes, honey. Meryl Streep’s son, children! Do you have any new backstage rituals this time around?
SS: The same ones, because it would be very weird to start up new rituals. In order to do something again you haven’t done for many years, you need everything to be the same. So my rituals are: I get to the show extra early. I take a shower at about ten minutes before the half hour call. I come down here right after the show starts. I walk into Billy’s dressing room, I give Billy some air kisses on either side of his face. I tell him I love him. We talk for a second. Then I go onstage and do the show. At intermission, I have one Grether’s pastille as a treat.
BP: Only one?
SS: Just one, because I’ve tried having more than one, and it makes me too wet. Then I start gargling on spit, and then the front row gets drenched.

**

Billy Porter and Stark Sands in <i>Kinky Boots</i>
Billy Porter and Stark Sands in Kinky Boots Matthew Murphy

Then, we turned the tables and Sands asked Porter his burning questions.

Stark Sands: Hi, Billy Porter.
Billy Porter: Hi, Stark Sands.
SS: Welcome to a Tuesday.
BP: Welcome to a Tuesday at the boots that are kinky.
SS: I have some questions for you.
BP: Please, please. Ask away.
SS: Why return to Kinky Boots, now?
BP: Well, if you’ve been living in the world today, you know that something’s not right. At least it’s not right for me. With this show, it puts kind and positive energy out into the world that I think the world needs. I know I need it. I need to be reminded of it on a daily basis, because I’m not in a space of grace right now. I’m not in a space of hope right now. So this show is a fake-it-until-you-make-it thing for me.
SS: OK, Billy, your next question: How much of the show has remained in your muscle memory?
BP: All of it actually, surprisingly. I was really nervous. I was doing my preparation before we got here. We had three days of rehearsal and a put in. I was like, “Ah, I don’t know if that’s enough.” But I learned my lines, relearned my lines. And then I got here. We got on the stage and literally, it was like we never left.
SS: Do you bring anything to your role now that you didn’t initially?
BP: Well, first of all I’m married. I have found true love in my life, so that just colors everything in a way that… there’s not really words for it. It just is a thing. It just happens. You know. You had a child. It makes everything different.
SS: All right. What are your plans for when you leave the show?
BP: I’m doing a television show. I’m starring on a brand new Ryan Murphy television show called Pose. I’m going to be touring with my album stuff, I’m writing a gospel musical with Kurt Carr, and I’m directing a play on its way to Broadway, so I’m staying busy!

Click Here to Shop for Theatre Merchandise
 
Recommended Reading: