Wisconsin-born and New York-based award-winning actor Kyle Taylor Parker is well known to lovers of musical theater and to all loyal KTPEEPS for his featured roles in the original Broadway casts of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Kinky Boots, and for his lead performance as Lola in the First National Tour of the latter, among his many other hits (including Dreamgirls, Finnian’s Rainbow, and In the Heights). As a singer, he is a master of not only show tunes, but also of the soul, jazz, and pop genres; his rendition of Anderson & Petty’s “Stowin’ Away” is available across a variety of online streaming sites, and his debut album, To Broadway, with Soul, is set to be released within weeks.
Parker’s two latest shows – the blockbuster revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe (which closed Off-Broadway in November) and the world premiere of My Very Own British Invasion (opening at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in February, with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell and book by Rick Elice) – feature popular music of the US and England in the ‘60s, the fame of which has endured long beyond the fifteen minutes Andy Warhol predicted for everyone in the future, in his oft-quoted remark of 1968.
Now in tech and about to begin previews on January 31, Kyle took a short break to answer some quick questions about his personal favorites and the highlights of his flourishing career.
- What is it about the ‘60s?
Kyle: Oh, the ‘60s are the best! The music, the passion, the attitude – I’m obsessed with the ‘60s!
2. Which song do you most look forward to performing in My Very Own British Invasion?
“The House of the Rising Sun.”
3. What’s your favorite memory from Smokey Joe’s Cafe?
Meeting the original cast on opening night. I was a big fan of the show when it was on Broadway in the ‘90s.
4. What kind of music did you listen to when you were a kid?
A lot of Broadway. Ain’t Misbehavin’ was my favorite, I listened to it all the time. And Motown. Broadway and Motown.
5. Who was the biggest inspiration in your career in the theater?
I have a few: Lillias White; André De Shields; and Patti LuPone.
6. Have you ever invaded Britain, either on a visit or in a touring production?
Only on a visit. I love the UK, so any time I can get there with my partner, we hop on a plane and go!
7. Do you prefer performing in front of a live audience or in a recording booth?
Ummm, I prefer an audience, but I do love a recording studio because it’s so intimate. They’re so different, but I would say being in front of an audience is my favorite.
8. Which three words describe how you feel when you’re on stage?
Alive, in love, and lost in the moment. That’s more than three words, but . . . !
9. What has being “On Broadway” meant to you?
It’s meant the world to me. It’s been my dream since I was five years old. I was kind of an outsider, so being on Broadway has given me a sense of community, it’s having a place to be.
10. Which song on your new album best expresses who you are?
Oooohhhh, that’s a good question! I would say my rendition of “Ol’ Man River” – passionate, learning patience every day, and a big-hearted individual.
11. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?
12. What’s your footwear of choice – kinky boots or comfortable shoes?
Comfortable shoes, honey! All those years in those boots and I’m done. But even in British Invasion I wear a heeled boot.
13. If you could keep any one costume from a show you were in, which would it be?
My red kinky boots – they’re so fabulous! Any of Gregg Barnes’ costumes. And I did get to keep one of my jackets from Smokey Joe’s.
14. Is there one particular role or show you haven’t done yet that would be your dream job?
Yes, I would like to play Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls on Broadway.
15. What’s your biggest wish for 2019?
I want world peace, of course, and a passionate year. The greatest thing about being an artist is letting people escape for a while, so I hope we can all find ways to do that.
Thank you, Kyle, for taking our Pop quiz and for sharing a few minutes of your never-ending fame with our readers!