For Kenneth Mosley, a veteran theatre actor who portrays the drag queen phenom Lola in “Kinky Boots,” singing and dancing in big musical numbers is nothing new, but singing and dancing in big musical numbers while wearing two-and-a-half foot, thigh-high stiletto heels provided its own interesting set of challenges.
At the time of this interview, the Broadway touring production of the popular, Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” was in its second week.
“I really had to take it upon myself to get with some people that knew what they were doing because I had actually no idea what parts of my body to use to make the heels work,” Mosley said of preparing for the musical’s signature wardrobe piece. “It took quite a while, but I’m thankful for all my friends that were able to help me tackle that.”
“Kinky Boots” was a musical that first began strutting its stuff on Broadway in 2013. Based on the 2005 film of the same name, the musical was created by some notable names in and beyond Broadway thanks to Tony Award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein (“La Cage Aux Folles”), direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (“Hairspray,” “Legally Blonde”) and both music and lyrics written by ‘80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper.
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This unique combination of talent brings to life a true story of Charlie Price (Connor Alston), who inherits a struggling English shoe factory from his father, and the reinvention of his business and target customer — namely, drag queens — thanks to an unlikely friendship with Lola (Mosley). When all of these elements came together, it helped “Kinky Boots” win six Tony Awards, including best score, best choreography and best musical.
Mosley recently finished portraying Motown mastermind Barry Gordy in the national touring production of “Motown: The Musical” (which came to the Lexington Opera House last year). Whereas Gordy was the man behind the music, Mosley said Lola is quite the opposite and “lights, camera, action all the time.”
The actor said he enjoys bring real-life characters in a genuine and artistic way on stage and that portraying Lola helped him expand as a performer in more ways than one.
“Often, you can get pigeonholed in playing a version of yourself,” Mosley said. “This was really great opportunity to find out what parts of my gift and my skill set can be found in Lola, and it’s been a great experience so far.”
Whether it’s the clashing dynamics with interactions between the traditional-minded factory workers and Lola’s fellow drag queens known as her “angels,” Lauper’s genre-blending and exuberant musical score or ambitious choreography where treadmills occasionally double as factory conveyor belts, there is plenty of vibrancy in “Kinky Boots” for the audience’s eyes and ears.
But according to Mosley, it’s the heart of “Kinky Boots” that provides something welcome and unexpected. During the short amount of time he’s been on this tour, he occasionally “hears tears and sniffling during a couple of numbers,” he said. He is also pleasantly surprised to many people in a show that provides partial focus to the life of drag queens be anywhere in the age range of 50 to 70.
For Mosley, it is proof that “Kinky Boots” carries a message that has some serious legs.
“We all have moments in life where we can lean on others and often the people that can lift us up are those diametrically different from us,” he said. “This is a show that really takes the time to remind us that we can find more things to agree on, that we can find more commonalities between us than things that divide us.”
If you go
When: 8 p.m., Jan. 18 and 19; 2 p.m., Jan. 19 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20
Where: Lexington Opera House, 401 W. Short St.
Info: 859-233-4567 or Lexingtonoperahouse.com