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Exclusive: Behind The Sparkle Of Kinky Boots With Juan Torres-Falcon

Meghan Harvey | PopWrapped Author

Meghan Harvey

Updated 10/31/2016 1:37pm
Exclusive: Behind The Sparkle Of Kinky Boots With Juan Torres-Falcon | Kinky Boots
Media Courtesy of SHNSF

One of the best things about the theatre is that it gives us, the audience, the chance to feel that we are part of something bigger than just our own small world, something magic. And most importantly, that we are not alone.

Though I haven’t had the chance to see for myself the magic of Kinky Boots, winner of six Tony Awards®, I plan on seeing it when it makes it’s way to the San Francisco’s SHN Golden Gate Theatre. But, in the meantime, I got a little hint of the magic of Kinky Boots when I was got the chance to chat with one of the stars, the beautiful Juan Torres-Falcon.

PopWrapped: Tell us about Kinky Boots and the part you play.

Juan Torres-Falcon: Kinky Boots is based on a film by the same name, a British film. It’s a strange premise for a musical, not an easy sell. It’s not like Wicked where you can say it’s like The Wizard of Oz or Phantom of the Opera, where everyone knows Phantom. Those are easier sells. We are about a shoe factory in England that’s going bankrupt, and, in order to save the factory, our young leading man, Charlie Price, who inherits this shoe factory from his father who passed away, aligns himself with a drag queen to make high heel boots that are strong enough for the weight of a man. I can only imagine what it was like to sit in on the first producers' meeting and try to figure out how to package this. But, I have to say, on the outside, it’s a story about a shoe factory and drag queens, but, when you zoom out, you really see what a really timely and poignant message. Kinky Boots is more than just a fun night of theatre; it is a fun night and everybody has fun at Kinky Boots. Everybody leaves open-hearted, and it’s really very joyous. But behind the sequins and glitter and the high heels is a really tangible beating hearts, and that’s what makes our show so special.

I play one of the angels -- there are six of us. Lola is the Drag Queen and designer of the Kinky Boots, and we’re her back up. We’re like the greek chorus that helps tell the story. I have the great honor of wearing beautiful kinky boots eight times a week.

PW: How long have you been on tour with Kinky Boots?

JTF: I have been on the tour since it began. We started rehearsals in July 2014 and opened in September in Las Vegas, so I’ve been on the tour its entire running time thus far. And we're actually in San Francisco at another theatre -- we were at the Orpheum in 2014 and had an amazing run. It’s good to be back. Because San Francisco gets us.

PW: Do you find differences reactions in the different cities you visit on the tour?

JTF: I always say our show means something very different to different people. In a city like San Francisco, our show is very fun -- it’s more fun than anything else. We’re not reaching anything to anyone in San Francisco. We’re not opening hearts or enlightening people; those hearts are already open, and those minds are already enlightened. In San Francisco, it functions as a celebration, and it’s terrific way to showcase dance and theatre and costumes. Versus our show in Des Moines, Iowa? It’s more alchemic, almost more special there. Because our show there is a political and social statement. Not to say it’s more special to perform in Des Moines, but I know what it means to young disenfranchised LGBT people who get to see our show in Des Moines, Iowa -- people who have not been able to express themselves openly.

I had a teacher in college who said that one of the most humanizing and life-affirming things in the world you can experience in your life is to see yourself reflected in art. To see ‘that person is like ME’ to see ‘that person is going through a similar experience” or looks likes me, talks like me, or is in love like I am. Our show can go to a place where there aren’t drag queens being celebrated. That’s one of the great things about our show is when Cyndi Lauper and Jerry Mitchell and Harvey Fierstein, who wrote the book, have delivered a score and a show that can play in San Francisco and the most conservative audiences in Alabama. It's like a sleeper cell. It’s planted in these really conservative places, and, because it’s a big brassy Broadway musical, they can forget that our show is somewhat controversial and our message lands better. That is a very unique thing, and it is, without a doubt, part of our magic. That we can go to some of these places and still work.

We played Charlotte, NC and Raleigh/Durham. We actually played Charlotte twice; it was the first city we returned to for an encore. To see that our show did so well there, a completely sold out run in North Carolina, yet this state still passes this really aggressive legislation against LGBT people. It’s shocking. It's kind of scary that our show can do so well and still face these problems. It shows how we still a lot to work on.

PW: Will the new law affect you returning?

JTF: We’re not scheduled to go to any of the cities in North Carolina now, so we haven’t had to face it. But the show is opened ended. I’d be amazed to see what happens. It would be up to our producers, etc., but I think there is something about carrying the message there. There are still people out there who need to see this show. Our show is an extremely effective way of planting a small seed. We’re not going to change the mind of a lunatic who hates anything that’s different than they are -- our show is not a miracle -- but our show is a little precious gift, and, when unwrapped, it stays with you. As much as I would love to say we shouldn’t go to these cities, for the little boy, the little Juan when he was 14 years old, I want him to be able to see it. I want him to go see drag queens living their goddamned best life on stage.

You can catch Juan Torres-Falcon walking down the Kinky Boots runway when Kinky Boots begins its run at SHN’s Golden Gate theater Tuesday, May 11 and stays through May 22nd.

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