Kinky Boots stars Todrick Hall, Taylor Louderman, and Killian Donnelly joined SiriusXM radio host Julie James for an eye-opening and hilarious panel on Day Two of BroadwayCon 2017. Here are the five most fascinating things we learned:
Hall hangs a hard truth as inspiration on his dressing room mirror.
“I have this on my mirror, it says ‘Bitch, you are not Cynthia Erivo,’” Hall revealed to cheers throughout the MainStage arena. “You’re not her, and you will never be.” But that’s not a discouragement, that’s a call to action and a comfort. Hall “loves the challenge” of aspiring to greatness, but also recognizes his limitations—while paying respect to Queen Cynthia.
The message of Kinky Boots is reaching audiences—the actors can see it.
The story of acceptance through Lola resonated with original Tony-winning star Billy Porter on a deep level, and the same is true for the current Lola. “A lot of the scenes that Lola and Simon go through are things I’ve experienced in my own life,” said Hall. But the cast has also noticed what an important conduit the show has been in recent months. Hall recalled that the day after the 2016 election the streets were like The Walking Dead. “It was not New York,” he said. But the shows the next two days were sold out, people cried in places they never cried. The line “you change the world if you change your mind” in the finale is now getting the biggest cheer every night. “The energy that comes out of the show and bleeds into the streets,” said Donnelly. In fact, Hall met a woman from Salt Lake City at the stage door. Not only did she return home and send her whole family out to New York on a trip to see Kinky Boots, she told Hall that she was changing her vote for President.
Hall doesn’t want to go back to making YouTube videos.
Though Hall started his performing career on Broadway (working in The Color Purple and Memphis before competing on American Idol), he is best known as a YouTube super-sensation. Still, his Kinky Boots experience has changed his perspective. “I don’t even want to go back and make YouTube videos,” he said. “I want to apologize to Debbie Reynolds for ‘Twerking in the Rain.’ If feel like I want to take it down. I’ve changed my ways.” But don’t worry, Toddlerz. Hall isn’t going to stop making videos; they’re going in a bit of a different direction. He has been inspired by his YouTube fans that have come to Kinky Boots to see their first Broadway show and he wants to use his platform to bring a new generation of audiences to Broadway.
Donnelly is as big a musical theatre fanatic as you can be.
Donnelly, who hails from Ireland, was asked how he was first bit by the theatre bug—since Broadway and other theatre were so far away. Turns out, his father gave him a Colm Wilkinson album when he was ten years old. “When I heard Colm Wilkinson sing: ‘God on high,’” Donnelly sang, to audience swoons, “that gave me the absolute love for it.” At the age of 15, he found an amateur theatre group, made up mostly of 30- and 40-somethings, and began swapping CDs and learning about the industry that would become his career.
Hall was always a creative child.
For Christmas, he asked for a fog machine. Hall was always putting on a show. To the audience’s laughter, Hall told about this homegrown production of the full Nutcracker (complete with snow made of baby powder) and the time he chopped off the heads of piñatas to recreate Disney’s Mickey Mouse Parade. His desire to create always crackled, but he told James, “I don’t know when I got polished.”