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3:29 PM / Friday November 24, 2017

13 Oct 2017

Jos N. Banks is the epitome of fierce in “Kinky Boots”

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October 13, 2017 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Jos N. Banks stars as the fabulous Lola/Simon in the award-winning musical “Kinky Boots”.

 

By Kharisma McIlwaine

“Kinky Boots”, the Tony-award winning Broadway musical, remains a fan favorite for all the right reasons.

The show, which is packed with heart, a dynamic soundtrack and out of this world choreography, called the Academy of Music home for a week during it’s national tour. From start to finish, “Kinky Boots” — written by Tony-award winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, with music and lyrics from Grammy and Tony award winner Cyndi Lauper, and choreography by Tony award- winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell — had the audience dancing in it’s seats.

“Kinky Boots” tells the story of Charlie Price, the son of a shoemaker.  After his father’s untimely death, Charlie inherits his father’s shoe factory and it’s debt. When the fabulous drag entertainer Lola enters his life, the cosmos align and a perfect partnership is formed when Charlie learns that Lola is in the market for shoes sturdy enough to support her larger than life frame and personality. An unlikely friendship forms, along with opportunities for personal growth when Charlie and the audience realize that most people are like Lola… more than what meets the eye.

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Chicago native Jos N. Banks, embodies the  dual role of Lola and her offstage counterpart, Simon, and leads the way through “Kinky Boots” for the audience.

Like Charlie and Lola, Banks found his niche in life, and the role of a lifetime, unconventionally.

“I only started doing theater because I used to have a very bad stutter,” Banks said. “When I would speak in public, I would just freak myself out. So, a few of my teachers said, you should go try out for the school musical because they knew I like to sing. So, I did, fell in love with it and caught the bug! That was my junior year of high school… it’s something that stuck. I went to college for it, minoring in costume design… So, I actually relate to Lola.”

The costume design for “Kinky Boots” is incredible in every sense of the word. The intricate details, lace, lattice, bling, and the iconic, thigh high, string-up, 6 inch, red patent leather boots that bring Lola to life are unforgettable! Banks had some big boots to fill in his own life. He was first introduced to “Kinky Boots” and the role of Lola by his idol Billy Porter, who originated the role on Broadway. After winning a Billy Porter’s biggest fan contest, Banks was flown to New York to see “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, met Porter and was given the full VIP treatment. It was this interaction that propelled Banks to begin a Kinky Boots journey of his own.

“I’ve been auditioning for the show for the past two years,” Banks said. “I’d be called back for it, but always for one of the Angels. I started to realize, that was the issue… I just need to be Lola! So, when the opportunity arose, I saw it on Facebook, I submitted for the open call. I flew to New York on my own dime, I auditioned for it and I got it… it’s crazy!”

“Kinky Boots” has all the makings of a great show; it’s laugh out loud funny, has a standout soundtrack and lovable characters. The choreography and display of athleticism is out of this world. The list of positive qualities “Kinky Boots” possesses is endless… but the aspect that stands out the most is the show’s ability to connect us all over our commonalties vs. separating us because of our differences. Banks offered his perspective on the role.

“So many people look at Lola or any drag performer, and they think ‘there’s no way I have anything in common with this person,’”he said. “In reality, that’s the exact opposite! Everyone has something in common with Lola, even her drag persona. You know that fierce person that comes out when you go to a party and get all dressed up? Everyone has a little of that. But I love the humanity of Lola. I like to say that Lola is love, that’s all she is. She shares love and light to everyone she meets and interacts with.”

Banks will continue to bring the love, sass, and fierceness that is Lola to “Kinky Boots” on the national tour through May 2018. He’s phenomenal, so you don’t want to miss the chance to catch him in the role.. In the interim, you can keep up with Banks on social media @josnbanks.

“Kinky Boots” reminds us all that obstacles can be overcome, you can’t judge a book by its cover, life is too short to not take chances, and that when we lead with love and acceptance the possibilities are endless. In the famous words of the show, “Ladies, gentlemen, and those who have yet to decide”, “Kinky Boots” is a must see…for everyone!

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