The Cyndi Lauper-scored “Kinky Boots” tells the story of Charlie taking over his father’s struggling shoe factory in England. Just when he starts to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, he crosses paths with drag queen Lola. Despite their different backgrounds, the two  find common ground to help keep the company going. 

Lola is played by Kyle Taylor Parker, who worked his way up to headliner after beginning in the musical’s ensemble years ago. We talked to Parker about what it’s like to step into Lola's very tall boots. 

Related: Sara Bareilles heads behind the scenes for 'Waitress' at A.R.T.


What makes Charlie and Lola become not only business partners, but great friends?
They end up discovering that they have similar childhoods. They both have similar relationships with their fathers and [are] still dealing with that and figuring out how to become a man on their own terms. And that’s what bonds them.

What do you like about Cyndi Lauper’s writing style? 
Cyndi is a genius. Her writing is fun, it’s soulful, and it has so much heart. Each character’s song is written as though the character had written the song. No song is the same in the show. 

Were you starstruck when you first met her?
I was completely starstruck when I first met her — that’s rock and roll royalty! And in the rehearsal process, having her work with me on “Hold Me In Your Heart,” she was singing the song to me. That was the day I was trying to like keep it together, you know, get the note that she was trying to give me, but there was a part of me that was like “Cyndi Lauper is singing to me!” 

There’s a larger message about acceptance in the show. Does Lola struggle with self-acceptance?
I think Lola learns to accept herself. She accepts the conditions of her life. She accepts that relationship with her father wasn’t perfect. But she’s not a prisoner to it. And doing that, she’s able to get the life she wants. 

But on the outside, Lola appears so confident. Is there something deeper within that we don’t see at first sight? 
We’re all human, right? So everyone has their insecurities, even [people] who seem brave and strong and confident. Lola is a character who has found a place in this world to exist, on her own, away from people who may not understand her. And Charlie presents the opportunity [for Lola] to exist in a greater world with people who may not understand [Lola], you know, out of the cocoon of life. And when she is asked to do that, out of her comfort zone, that’s when you begin to see a few insecurities and you see that maybe this person has not completely accepted herself and has a bit of unfinished business with the past.


Favorite moments:

Do you have a favorite number?
I love “The Land of Lola Reprise.” It’s so much fun. I get to improv a bit, I get to act like Beyoncé, I get to talk to the audience, all in one scene.

Most importantly, which is your favorite pair of Lola’s boots?
The red sparkly pair at the end, definitely.


If you go:
"Kinky Boots" is at the Boston Opera House through Aug. 30.  Tickets are $40-$200 at www.ticketmaster.com.