Winner of six Tony Awards, the Broadway hit musical Kinky Boots debuted on The Great White Way in October 2012 and hasn't slowed down since.
The popular musical is based on the 2005 film Kinky Boots, which was serendipitously inspired by a true story. With music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots was bound for stardom the minute it entered the joint. The Broadway community received the show "with open arms and open hearts," according to Lauper.
"We were knocked out by the reception, but not shocked," Lauper said. "It just felt so good throughout the process and great reactions all the way from the workshops moving forward from industry folks, and family and friends that got to see some of the early rehearsals. So when we finally got an audience in there and they liked it as much, we were so happy. We felt pretty good about it, but to see people laugh and cry and dance during the show, at every show, has been just awesome."
How did Lauper celebrate after learning of the show's monumental theater wins?
"I actually got on a plane to go to Las Vegas the next morning to do an event for the show for a Broadway Across America convention," she laughed. "I kid you not. I think I went from the after Tony party to my apartment to pack, [and then] to the airport...I'm still tired!"
Working with Torch Song Trilogy Tony winning actor Fierstein has been nothing short of a dream come true for Lauper. She described the Hairspray alum as "brilliant, funny, generous, friend, and my Mommie Dearest. [He calls me Christina.]"
Creating a musical was a departure for Lauper, but one that she welcomed.
"The first records I ever heard were my mother's Broadway cast recordings. The first time I ever sang was singing along with those records and performing in front of my relatives and neighbors," she said. "So to come full circle and be able to work on a musical and be welcomed into the Broadway community was a dream come true."
With "True Colors" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" echoing through the airwaves even to this day, how did Lauper fare writing a score for the stage?
"Your job as the songwriter, as the composer for a musical, is to help move the story forward in song," she said. "Harvey would send me scenes and say, 'In this scene, there needs to be a song that says this, from the perspective of this character who is feeling this...' So you have to just figure out what the character is going through," she explained. "You need to get into that head space. It's about honoring the story, helping the story being told. Which, of course, is a lot different from writing your own songs for a CD that gets played on the radio!"
"Sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out," is a tagline from Kinky Boots. How has this been true in the songstress' own life?
"I've always been a stalwart believer in being who you are. If you don't, in the end you will have more pain and suffering," Lauper said. "You have to stand your ground and be who you are and find acceptanceif not in others, than in yourself. That's the road to happiness...and as Oscar Wilde said, and is quoted by [the character] Lola: 'Be Yourself: everyone else is already taken.'"
The national tour of Kinky Boots is hitting cities across the United States now, and will make its way to Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre July 14-26, 2015.
"We have an amazing cast and KTP [Kyle Taylor Parker], who plays Lola, was actually one of the original Angels on Broadway. Stephen Booth, who plays Charlie, is just great. He is a great singer and KTP and Stephen have a really special chemistry. They lead a really strong cast and, again, I think because the show tells a great story that people can relate to and embrace, the word of mouth just grows and grows, so we are so lucky to have an audience full night to night," Lauper said of the national tour.
Has Lauper gone hands-free with the show yet? Not quiteand that's fine by her!
"Well, we are always recasting certain parts. Kinky Boots started two years ago already, so it's just natural that people move on and roles have to be recast. We are also are opening in Korea at the end of the year, and then there will be lots more international productions down the road, so we're always meeting with theaters and actors and partners. I am very hands-on and wouldn't want it to be any other way," she said.
When Lauper isn't garnering the well-deserved attention from Kinky Boots, she's teaching others to Give a Damn. "The Give a Damn Campaign is going great," she said. "We are actually just about to relaunch a whole new incredible website. When we first started the campaign, it was very celebrity-focused to help raise the awareness and draw people in. Now that we are 115,000 members strong, the Give a Damn Campaign is really now being driven by them and the new website and our messaging will be reflective of that.
"Also, we are still pushing for straight people to get informed and get involved in advancing equality for the LGBT community, but we are shifting the purpose to be more focused on ensuring that LGBT youth have a world that they can grow up in and feel safe to be who they are," she said, adding, "40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBT and we need to make sure that percentage goes from 40 to none, but we also need to make sure that these kids have a world in which they are equal."
The decked-out entrepreneur and social activist also started another campaign via Kinky Boots called Just Be.
"Kinky Boots is all about celebrating who you are, and, as the line in the show says, 'Just be who you want to be.' So the fact that celebrities like Sara Bareilles, Josh Groban, Kelly Osbourne, Martina Navratilova, and Mario Batali put on the boots for the campaignto support their favorite charities and celebrate their uniquenessis exactly the message of Kinky Boots."
Learn more about Cyndi Lauper via her official website, www.cyndilauper.com; book tickets to see Kinky Boots at www.kinkybootsthemusical.com .