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Music Icon Cyndi Lauper Loves Her Kinky Boots

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

 

Cyndi Lauper, Photo Credit: Taís Melillo. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

"Kinky Boots," the smash-hit musical that brings together four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein and rock icon Cyndi Lauper, opens at Keller Auditorium on Oct. 1.

GoLocalPDX had a chance to speak to one of its co-creators, pop maven/songbird Cyndi Lauper; the offbeat star burst onto the scene in the mid-1980s with her anthemic “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” a huge hit from her now-classic album “She’s So Unusual.”

Decades later it’s fun to find out that Cyndi is not so unusual after all…okay…she’s still a little unusual if not downright woo-woo-ish. But the 60-year-old Lauper’s also focused, determined and always wanting to put her best foot forward in everything she does.

Directed and choreographed by Tony® Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots" took home six 2013 Tony® Awards, the most of any show in the season, including Best Musical, Best Score (Lauper) and Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell).

In "Kinky Boots," based on the 2005 movie of the same name, Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be.

As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.

A Happy Pill

Working on the show “is a real honor,” said Lauper from New York City, where the show is still going strong on Broadway. As for the touring company which is making only its fourth national stop in Portland, she says in her distinctive New York accent, “The voices in this show…oh my God…are nothing less than killer.”

Lauper's music is central to the vibe of the show and, she says, to everything we all do: “Music is a vital part of us. We may come to [the theater] all feeling differently. But music does this amazing thing. It lifts people up. It expresses how we feel. It connects us and can change the entire mood of the room.”  

Kinky Boots

She calls the show her “happy pill” even though the protagonists, Charlie and Lola, face difficult issues, especially when it comes to their fathers, neither of whom believe their children have lived up to their expectations.

“Even though they are very different from each other, they come together for the common good,” says Lauper. “They go through an evolution. I purposely gave everyone a different ‘jam’ to sing in the show. They all have a different sound, but as they work toward their six steps to happiness that are highlighted in what is really the anthem for the show, "Raise You Up/Just Be," they all blend together into one unified sound…(In their own way) they become a family. 

"Those six steps are: "Pursue the truth. Learn something new. Accept yourself and you'll accept others. Let love shine. Let pride be your guide. Change the world when you change your mind."

The themes of family, love and happiness are all central to Lauper. The important messages, and they way they are delivered, in "Kinky Boots" make it
the kind of show that can pull you out of the doldrums even on the toughest kind of day. She recently traveled to Las Vegas to see the show on tour, and even after a long and difficult cross country flight, she found herself in the audience, completely sucked into the story.

"I got the giggles," she says.  "It's a happy show!"

Still A Maverick?

In a March 4, 1985, Newsweek cover story called “Rock and Roll Women Power,” the writer stated, “Of them all, the most exciting - and unusual - star is certainly Cyndi Lauper. She’s a maverick - a new wave Betty Boop with the heart of Janis Joplin, the lungs of a screaming punk and the unflinching spirit of a never-say-die feminist…Lauper’s musical methods are as uncompromising as her convictions.”

That quote led to a question on whether or not Cyndi still believed she is a maverick.   

She skirted the question, as she says she does with all press.

“I never read any of my press whether it’s good or bad. Whenever you do anything creative you’ve got to be willing to take a step back. And you’ve got to get rid of your 'third eye,' " says Lauper, referring to those who are not part of an artist's creative process. “You have to stay present and in the moment.” 

And, after decades in show business, it seems Lauper is still enjoying her “moment” both on and offstage.

Maybe she’s still unusual after all. 

 KINKY BOOTS, Keller Auditorium, October 1 - 5. For more information visit: http://portland.broadway.com/shows/kinky-boots-baa/


 

 

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