No Laces, Just Heels! “KINKY BOOTS”

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Tom Souhrada

As a cast member in the hit musical Kinky Boots, Tom Souhrada feels like a rock star. Night after night, he feels the energy of the crowd screaming and cheering from their seats. With a score crafted by the legendary pop icon and Grammy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper, what can you expect? “It doesn’t matter where we are or what city we are playing playing. By the end of the show, the audience is totally on board and they are dancing and yelling and screaming. It’s so much fun,” he says. “It’s an amazing group of people that I get to work with every day. They are so extremely talented and this show is just so much fun to perform. It’s just such a joy to hear the audience reactions every night. By the end of the show, they are leaping to their feet, screaming and yelling and clapping. It’s very satisfying.”
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Kinky Boots is staged May 2-7 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts as part of the FSCJ Artist Series (www.artistseriesjax.com). Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price as he struggles to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son, a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. What begins in a  shoe factory in Northampton travels to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. “Once all of the characters are introduced and at the story begins to unfold, the audience is so invested in the story. They also get such a kick out of the songs. Cyndi Lauper has written so many fantastic songs,” he says. “They are just so enjoyable to listen to.” As a pop star-turned-Broadway diva, Lauper has created a masterful that earned her the Tony Award-winner for Best Score for Kinky Boots. “Who would have thought that she had a major Broadway musical in her that just poured out,” he says. “Kudos to her. The show is such a huge success worldwide. It’s such a huge monumental hit around the world.”

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Directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots has won every major Best Musical Award and is represented around the world with the Tony Award-winning Broadway company. A North American First National Tour launched in September 2014, a London production opened in September 2015, where it won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Musical and an Australian production opened in October 2016. Previous productions include an extended run in Toronto, two Korean productions and a Japanese language production.

0030_KINKY_BOOTS_TOURA native of North Miami Beach, Souhrada started his stage career in his own backyard. After seeing the Sound of Music as a kid, he cast his sisters in his own remake of the musical. “I would force both of my sisters to do shows in our backyard for our parents. One of the earliest ones I remember is when we went to see the Sound of Music. I saved up my allowance and I bought the album and it was my most treasured possession,” he says. “We did our own little backyard version of it. Then early on in my career, I was lucky enough to work with Julie Andrews. She directed a tour I did called The Boyfriend. I told her the whole story and she got a kick out of it. So it was like coming full circle.” Since joining the company a year and a half ago, Souhrada says he has enjoyed every minute with the talented cast and crew whether they are on stage or backstage. “That was just such an incredible experience. It was so enjoyable to go to work. It’s more than a team. It’s like a family,” he says. “We all have such a good time together and I think that shows up on stage. I think that’s why the audience also really responds to the show. It’s like the characters in the factory. All these people have been working there their whole life and are trying to save it from going under. They have to really bind together to make that happen and I think that feels true to the audience because we are really close as cast members and that comes across.”

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Last fall, the company traveled to Japan for five weeks. Souhrada says despite the language barrier, the universal message of the show came through. “It’s applicable everywhere that we go. One of my favorite lyrics in the show is ‘you change the world so we can change your mind’. Especially nowadays, it’s so resonant. It’s such a universal message about loving yourself, accepting others, there are father and son issues that are threaded throughout the story. Everyone can relate to all those aspects. Sometimes when you feel like you are different from other people or you feel like you’re not accepted in a certain situation, we all have those experiences, no matter who we are. The audience really clings on to those threads and carries them through the whole show.” Catch Kinky Boots May 2-7 at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts.

About Liza Mitchell

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