Celebrity Profile: Wayne Brady Flaunts His Kinky BootsFebruary 17, 2016 - by Griffin Miller
The TV ad voice-over for Kinky Boots tells viewers they’ll be seeing Wayne Brady as they’ve “never seen him before.” Subtext: Brady plays Lola, a British drag queen with an eye for sexy footwear. The ad also doesn’t go into the fact that Brady sees performing on Broadway as a respite from his staggering list of commitments: hosting the popular game show Let’s Make a Deal, taping guest appearances on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, touring, singing, and exploring new projects.
Despite multiple Emmys for his work in TV, Brady never lost his passion for live theatre. In 2004 he made his Broadway debut as Billy Flynn in Chicago. Kinky Boots then, marks his second appearance on the big-time stage, and he jumped in heels first, ready to tackle one of Broadway’s most compelling characters. (Brady had some seriously demanding stiletto boots to fill in the wake of Billy Porter’s Tony-winning portrayal of Lola.)
“The heels definitely took time getting used to, but it’s awesome—I can’t complain for a moment,” Brady said, conceding he’s now devoted to Epsom salt foot baths and foot massages. “Billy warned me,” he added.
A fan of the musical (book by Harvey Fierstein; score by Cyndi Lauper), and the British cult film on which the musical is based, Brady is not an actor who emulates. “I find it important to make any role my own creation. Lola uses Harvey’s words and Cyndi’s music, but in the end it’s what the actor brings to the role,” he said.
While in the initial throes of rehearsals, Brady went to see celebrated drag diva Bob The Drag Queen (first name Bob, second name The Drag Queen) in performance to help him hone his stage persona. “I have such respect for drag performers,” said Brady, who has a friend that appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, a touchstone for all aspects of trans-formation. “When I see the work they put in—it’s such a far cry from just slapping on a wig to get a laugh.”
As for Lola, Brady wanted audiences to know he was doing his job in earnest. “It’s important to me that I look great in drag, so it’s not distracting,” he said, citing the show’s wig and makeup artists as valued resources. “Because of them, I can function on all cylinders.”
Photo: Matthew Murphy
On a final note, Brady admits the title Kinky Boots can be misleading: the show has nothing to do with weirdness or fetishism. Rather it celebrates acceptance, loving yourself, and venturing outside your comfort zone. “Without hyperbole, if you want to laugh...deep belly laughs... and be touched, this is the show,” Brady said. “It will leave you uplifted to the point of dancing out into the street when it’s over.”
Brady’s contract with Kinky Boots is up on March 27th, 2016, so I urge you to catch his performance before the clock runs out.
Kinky Boots is playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th St. For reservations call 212-239-6200 or visit kinkybootsthemusical.com.