Photo2 KinkyBootsTour PhotobyMatthewMurphy
 
What's better than a drag queen in a shoe factory? Setting it to music! That's right, Kinky Boots makes its St. Louis debut at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, March 24 - April 5 and this town is ready for the Kiki. 
 
The huge-hearted, high-heeled hit with songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, book by the legendary Harvey Fiersten and direction and choreography by Broadway legend Jerry Mitchell took the stage by storm earning six Tony awards including best musical. 
 
Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Sons. 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.
 
#Boom caught up with ensemble actor, dancer and singer Damien Brett via telephone where the St. Louis native talks Kinky Boots, it's wide appeal and more. 
 
How has the touring experience with Kinky Boots been?
 
Oh my gosh, so much fun. I can't tell you what an awesome ride it's been thus far. Damien-Brett
 
This obviously marks Kinky Boots Gateway City debut. As a St. Louis native I would imagine that this run will have some special meaning for you.
 
More so than you might even think. I grew up going to the Fox Theatre; I think the first time my mom ever took me there was a showing of the movie of My Fair Lady and they just lowered a big screen in front of the proscenium. But I never in all my years of growing up there got to perform at the Fox so I'm super, super excited. 
 
You got your start in musical theater right here - could you talk a little bit about that?
 
Yea, actually one of the first concerts I ever went to was at the St. Louis Muny and that is actually where most of my professional acting theater credits came from. I started working there when I was 18, and every summer for 12 years afterwards I would do two or three different shows at the Muny for a total now of - I think it's like 28 performances I did at the Muny as well as a bunch of community theatre and I went to a performing arts high school that really gave me rise to go to school in New York and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.  
 
What are you looking forward to doing most while you're back here in St. Louis?
 
Honestly the biggest thing is to be up on that stage at the Fox and have an entire community of people that I grew up knowing and believing in me being able to see me doing what I love to do and following my dreams. I'll look forward to seeing my friends and my family and really spending some time with the people that I care about, but it really mostly is just the fact that all those people who knew me when I was growing up saying, 'hey, you're gonna make it someday' actually seeing me up on that stage. 
 
Talk a little bit about your role in the ensemble?
 
I play a character who is affectionately named Hooch. He's not named in the script but the original Broadway company came up with different names for all of the factory workers. I work in the factory; I help make shoes, I punch the holes - I have a line where I say 'I punch the holes' - that's my claim to fame. I am one of three of the protagonists that don't really think that the factory should be going in the direction that it is, but eventually have their minds changed through the course of the show. 
 
Photo7 KinkyBootsTour PhotobyMatthewMurphyWhat's a typical day like on tour?
 
A lot of it is being able to fill the down time. So we're in a different city every week and so I like to get up and go to the gym when I can. In any particular city I like to see if there's anything fun to see or fun to do. A lot of times we'll arrange little trips to go to some type of venue. This week we have some new people who are being added to the cast so pretty soon we're going to start having rehearsals in the afternoon so the new people get their feet wet and know what it's like to be on the stage with the entire cast. 
 
When did you first discover Kinky Boots and what were your thoughts?
 
My wife and I both live in New York City and when it came to Broadway there was so much talk about it and we always kind of follow what is happening with the Tonys and everything. There was kind of this big Tony showdown between Matilda and Kinky Boots that year and I knew I wanted to see the show (I just had a feeling about Kinky Boots) before it won the Tony because tickets were just going to be so hard to get. So my wife and I went to see it in 2013 and it's just one of those things that - I mean, as an actor, I'm looking at every show I see for something I can do in that show. And I look at this show and I'm like, oh, it's just a bunch of real people - characters that everybody can relate to. I saw a couple of different things - I could do that and I could do that. Once that had passed, I felt joy through the entire production. The musical is beautiful, it's got a really awesome message, and by the end the entire audience was up on their feet and clapping and dancing and sharing and I just thought oh please, please, please let this be something I can be a part of
 
Why do you think the show has enjoyed the success that it has?
 
There are so many different reasons. Just to start with Harvey Fierstein, Jerry Mitchell and Cyndi Lauper - they are an amazing team. Everybody loves to do Lauper's music and it's so much fun. Harvey writes the most amazing books for shows that have won Tony awards over and over again and really knows how to craft a brilliant scene. And Jerry Mitchell is one of the most awesome directors I've ever worked with. He has this way of putting things on the stage both as a director and a choreographer that really can wow you. He has such an expert touch with it. I loved watching him in the rehearsal process and I actually learned a lot from him. So just the creative team by itself is really fantastic.
 
But the thing that I like most about the show and why people, I think, relate to it so much is that it's got this really wonderful message that you can be happy being exactly who you want to be just by being yourself. And if you can accept other people; if you can change your mind, if you can look at somebody for exactly who they are and accept them for who they are, then all of a sudden your whole world opens up. Photo9 KinkyBootsTour PhotobyMatthewMurphy
 
So you have the glitz and glamour of some flashy numbers and costumes and a beautiful set that draw you in to the entertainment experience. But then in the meantime, you're getting this really awesome dose of positivity and acceptance and you don't really have a choice other than feeling good at the end of it. It's kind of remarkable. 
 
Last question - what will you be recommending to your cast mates that they do while they're in St. Louis?
 
Oh you have to go see the arch. You gotta see the arch. And the City Museum is one of the most fun places I've ever been to ever and I keep wanting to go back there every single time I'm there. 
 
  
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