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From rural Wisconsin to the cast of Kinky Boots – James Fairchild

James Fairchild plays Don in Kinky Boots, which will be playing at CN Centre March 22.
James Fairchild plays Don in Kinky Boots, which will be playing at CN Centre March 22.

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

Don is a typical factory worker. He’s a big guy, knows what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and has a tough time with change.

“When Lola comes into the factory she is so different than anything he’s ever known before that it scares him, Lola has a world-view and he kind of fights back a bit,” says James Fairchild, who plays Don in the production of Kinky Boots coming to CN Centre March 22.

The winner of six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a Tony® Award-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Tony® Award-winner Jerry Mitchell.

Kinky Boots tells the uplifting and heartwarming tale of Charlie Price, a young man reluctantly taking over his family’s struggling shoe factory and looking for a fresh idea. Charlie meets and finds inspiration in Lola, and together they discover that it takes a good friend to make a great pair.

Fairchild’s character, Don, clashes with Lola when she comes to the factory.

For Fairchild, who has never been to Prince George before, his trip here will take him a long way from his roots in a small town in Wisconsin where he focused more on athletics during his high school years. He was on the wrestling team and played football and baseball.

One of his teachers talked him auditioning for Grease.

“From that day on, I knew this is what I want to do, to perform on stage,” he says.

He auditioned three times in New York City to play Don. He was cast as a replacement in May of last year, and joined the tour in December. It’s Fairchild’s third national tour, so he’s used to life on the road.

“You just kind of get into a rhythm of you get on the bus, get to the next hotel, check in, go to the theatre do your sound check, do the show, and then go home and get some sleep,” he says. “It’s a nice rhythm if you’re used to having a regimen every day.”

There is only one performance in Prince George, so it’s not like the 24 cast members and 12 crew get to spend a lot of time in a city they are performing in. However, if there is some down-time, the cast and crew will explore the city.

Kinky Boots has won every major Best Musical Award and is represented around the world with the Tony Award-winning Broadway company now in its fifth year, an Olivier Award-winning production in London, an Australian production that opened in October 2016, and an upcoming production in Germany. Other previous productions include a past US National Tour that played more than 80 cities, an Award-winning extended run in Toronto, two productions in Korea, and a Japanese language production. The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Kinky Boots is available on Sony Masterworks Broadway.

“We like to call Kinky Boots a Factory of Fun,” he says. “You’re going to get an amazing show with a lot of wonderful choreography and just a really nice feel-good story. You’ll leave the venue very happy.”

The performance is a musical, complete with choreography so it is a challenge for the actors.

“It is very physical,” Fairchild says. “The important thing, especially when you’re on tour, is to make sure you know, energy-wise, what you need to expel to give the best show possible. You try to give a show that is repeatable, so that everyone gets the same show, but also still has energy and life to it.”

And while it’s a feel-good story, it’s also a story that needs to be told right now, he says.

“The real big thing that we take very seriously is the story, because it is a story of acceptance,” he says. “At the end my character says ‘you change the world when you change your mind.’ That’s something that’s really needed right now. This story is very important.”

The National Tour of Kinky Boots. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy.