The musical Kinky Boots is coming to the Empire Theatre
The musical Kinky Boots is coming to the Empire Theatre

Living and loving the kinky life

This musical coming to the Empire Theatre stage in March isn't just about a great pair of shoes.

At its heart, the Cindy Lauper-written production is "about acceptance, tolerance, determination and love", as director Alison Vallette put it.

"The title of the show may be off-putting to some people, assuming the term 'kinky' indicates some sort of deviant behaviour, but Kinky Boots is anything but!" she says.

"Kinky Boots is a show that has a great storyline and great music.

"For me personally, it's hard to go past a really strong script," she continues.

"The plot in Kinky Boots is fabulous and I'm very much looking forward to doing it justice on stage."

The musical follows aspiring young business man Charlie Price as he tries to save his late father's family business - a shoe factory.

Charlie finds unexpected inspiration when he meets Lola, a drag queen in need of some sturdy stilettos, and the unlikely pair discover they have more in common than they once supposed.

With excitement ramping up and rehearsals having started mid-January, Style magazine decided it was time to have a chat with the two men behind the main characters, Lola and Charlie.

Charlie is played by Highfields young man Sean Johnston, who is excited for his biggest role so far.

"I have had roles in the past where I have been required to perform and sing solo, but I can safely say that this role will be the biggest I have taken on so far," Sean says.

While Sean has been in the performing arts scene since he was in Year 8 at high school, he discovered Kinky Boots away from home.

"I started acting and singing training more seriously in 2015, through school and community-based choirs and productions," he explains.

"In late 2017, I started taking private vocal lessons and also started dance training at Dance Central Toowoomba.

"I was in Brisbane when I first saw Kinky Boots and I absolutely loved the production, so when I heard it was coming to Toowoomba, I was ecstatic that I could audition for a part in the musical," he says.

"Probably the most exciting thing for me is being able to work alongside talented people who I will be able to learn new skills from that I can put into my own training."

Sean's character Charlie is described by him as being a bit awkward and unsure of himself to begin with, then developing into the man he wants to be along the journey.

"Rehearsals for the production started on the 12th of January and seeing where we've come with only a week of rehearsing, I can tell you right now that this production will be fantastic," Sean enthuses.

His family is very supportive of his keenness for the performing arts, and Sean has been in many local and school productions before.

"Performing live to an audience is a feeling that can't be compared to anything else I don't think.

"The way the audience reacts, and that instant feedback is its own thing."

Timothy Springs, who plays Lola, has been professionally performing for the last 10 years but is still very keen for the role.

"I've never played a drag queen before; I'm super excited!" he says.

"Sassy, caring, confident...Lola knows who she is.

"It's taken her a long time to find this person, but she is also sensitive."

Timothy has a decent resume behind him in the performing arts, from the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon in Melbourne to Porgy and Bess in Russia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.

"I've also done operas with Opera Australia, The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera which was pretty exciting," Timothy says.

He has been training since he was 15, originally from New York City and moving to Australia five years ago.

"I went to a boarding arts high school in America called The South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities," Timothy says.

"I was then accepted into Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School for university studies.

"My family are very supportive of my career - they know it makes me happy and are so marvelled that it's literally taken me all over the world."

His favourite part of performing overall is the travelling, meeting new people, and getting to turn into someone different, but his most anticipated part of his role in Kinky Boots is...

"The BOOTS! It's not everyday that I can walk around in six-inch heels," Timothy says.

"I also love that Lola encourages people to be who they want to be and to never let anyone stop you for that."

But what interested Timothy in Kinky Boots in the first place?

"The story is beautiful," he explains.

"It's about love and acceptance and standing up for people.

"As they say in the show 'you can change the world if you change your mind'."

Once again proof that Kinky Boots is a show about more than a fabulous pair of shoes.


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