<> 'Kinky Boots' actress doesn’t mind being identified with character | The Daily Gazette
 

Subscriber login

Theater & Dance

'Kinky Boots' actress doesn’t mind being identified with character

'Kinky Boots' actress doesn’t mind being identified with character

Tiffany Engen isn’t going to suggest she has a lot in common with her “Kinky Boots” character, Laure
'Kinky Boots' actress doesn’t mind being identified with character
Tiffany Engen in "Kinky Boots." (Matthew Murphy)

Tiffany Engen isn’t going to suggest she has a lot in common with her “Kinky Boots” character, Lauren, but if anyone else sees a similarity or two she’s just fine with that.

“She’s a strong individual, a great, funny and quirky character, who’s not afraid to share her opinion with others,” said Engen, a Minneapolis native and the female lead in the 2013 Broadway smash coming to Proctors for four shows next Saturday and Sunday. “I don’t know if I’m like her, but I feel as though I’ve learned from her. She’s a risk taker, and it’s a joy to play her.”

’Kinky Boots’

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

WHEN: 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $90-$20

MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org

“Kinky Boots” was nominated for 13 Tonys and won six, including Best Musical. It is the creation of Emmy and Grammy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics) and Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (book), and was nominated for 13 Tony Awards in 2013, winning six, including Best Musical. The show opened on Broadway in April of 2013 and more than 1,425 performances later is still running.

Based on the 2005 film by Geoff Dane and Tim Firth, “Kinky Boots” tells the story of Charlie Price, a young man who reluctantly takes over the foundering family business — men’s shoes — after the death of his father.

The business is saved when he partners with a drag performer named Lola to create fashionable and sturdy boots for some new flamboyant clientele.

The original film was inspired by a 1999 episode of the BBC2 documentary series, “Trouble at the Top,” and is based on a true story.

“Lauren is one of the factory workers who is passionate about her work and her family, and that family is the community of factory employees she works with,” said Engen, talking about her character.

“They look out for each other, and Lauren cares about the well-being of her fellow workers. She’s a complicated character, and a little awkward in romantic situations, but she’s someone who is truly inspiring to me. That I get the opportunity to play her every night is amazing.”

In Ben Brantley’s New York Times review of “Kinky Boots,” he wrote that Lauper, with help from Fierstein and director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, “created a heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy.”

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this show, and it has an incredible score by Cyndi Lauper,” said Engen.

Powerful message

“Then the book and the direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell touches on so many subjects. It’s a show about a father and son, it’s about accepting yourself and others around you. It’s about not judging a book by its cover. It’s about love. There’s a very powerful message you’re leaving the theater with.”

Adam Kaplan plays Charlie Price in the national tour production, and J. Harrison Ghee is Lola, the flamboyant drag queen who helps him turn around the fortunes of the family business.

“It really makes me happy to be in such a beautiful, unique show,” said Engen. “The tour is booked well into 2017 and I’m going to be a part of it for at least another year. To be touring the country, and knowing there are so many people touched by the show is awesome.”

Engen left Minnesota after high school and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

“You eat, sleep and breathe musical theater so it was the best time of my life,” she said. “To work on your passion is great. Ever since I played a chicken in second grade I’ve been hooked. I had one line, I got a big laugh, and that was it. I’ve been performing ever since.”

Engen says she’s a huge Bette Midler fan, but she’s also drawn inspiration from performers such as Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.

“I can remember watching Streisand in ‘Funny Girl’ and ‘Hello Dolly!’ and thinking how wonderful she was,” she said. “I also listened to the Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall album. They were special, but Bette Midler is probably my ultimate inspiration.”

busy acting career

Engen has been a busy performer since moving from Minnesota to New York City. She was in the Broadway production of “Legally Blonde” and has also done some film and TV work, landing roles in the 2007 film “Hairspray” and the 1999 movie “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”

“I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve kept pretty busy, and each time I get a new job it really seems to energize me,” she said.

“I’m also lucky because I have experienced working on both coasts. I’ve called New York City my home, but Los Angeles is like my new home. I love working in film and television, and I think the stage is where I really feel the most happy and alive. To do a Broadway show and be out there on the stage is a thrill of a lifetime.”

Top musicals to Schenectady

The list of Tony Award winners for Best Musical is an impressive one, and since the year 2000 most of those major Broadway successes have made their way to Proctors in Schenectady. Here is the list.

2014 — “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

2013 — “Kinky Boots”

2012 — “Once”

2011 — “The Book of Mormon”

2010 — “Memphis”

2009 — “Billy Elliot”

2007 — “Spring Awakening”

2006 — “Jersey Boys”

2005 — “Monty Python’s Spamalot”

2004 — “Avenue Q”

2003 — “Hairspray”

2001 — “The Producers”

* Don’t expect to find “The Lion King” or “Wicked” on this list. They’ve both been to Proctors, twice in fact, but “The Lion King” won its Best Musical award in 1998, while “Wicked” was only nominated in 2004, losing to “Avenue Q.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]

View Comments
Hide Comments
0 premium 1 premium 2 premium 3 premium article articles remaining SUBSCRIBE TODAY
Thank you for reading. You have reached your 30-day premium content limit.
Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber or if you are a current print subscriber activate your online access.