Broadway.com This is an advertisement   skip this ad

 

Kinky Boots - Broadway

Broadway's new high-heeled hit is the winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical!

Stark Sands on Working with Pop Star Composers and Why Kinky Boots Is More Than a 'Glitzy Drag Musical'

Stark Sands on Working with Pop Star Composers and Why Kinky Boots Is More Than a 'Glitzy Drag Musical'
Stark Sands in 'Kinky Boots'
It’s a show with a real heart and a really beautiful message.

Stark Sands received a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut as a young soldier in the World War I drama Journey’s End. He went on to star opposite Anne Hathaway in the Public Theater’s Twelfth Night before playing another damaged soldier on Broadway in the Green Day rock musical American Idiot. Now, Stark is back on the boards as Charlie Price, a shoe factory heir in need of serious help in the new musical Kinky Boots. Below, Sands talks to Broadway.com about why the show is so much more than audiences may expect, choosing American Idiot over Bonnie & Clyde and his fantastic co-stars, from Anne Hathway to Billy Porter.

Why did you want to be part of Kinky Boots?
When Jerry Mitchell calls you up and says, “Hey, you want to play the lead in my Broadway musical that Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper are writing?” you don’t really think about it. You just say yes.

The title might make people think that the show is a drag extravaganza, but it’s much more than that. How do you describe it to friends?
It's funny, because the title gives the idea that you're coming to see a glitzy drag musical, but it’s a show with a real heart and a really beautiful message, and if we do our jobs in telling the story then we can change the way people think. That’s kind of a lofty expectation, but I feel like this is a really good one. I’m glad the title is what it is, because we’re going to get people coming in expecting one thing and then being pleasantly surprised that there’s so much more to it than just the drag numbers.

Did you immediately hit it off with your co-star Billy Porter
Yes. We clicked right away, and I’m sure he would say the same thing. He’ll surprise me every night, and sometimes it’s so outrageous that I’ll start laughing on stage. I tried to suppress it in Chicago, because it seemed like I was breaking character, but the truth is if Charlie Price was faced with this particular fabulous human being, he would probably crack up, too. So now I just let it happen, and it’s a blast.

You've worked with Billie Joe Armstrong [on American Idiot] and now Cyndi Lauper. At what point can you relax around Broadway composers who are also pop stars?
[Laughs] I started out singing in high school in the choir and in a garage band. I learned to sing by listening to bands like Green Day, Weezer, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. So, I think I’m probably more likely to work on pop rock shows than very legit Broadway. To be honest, I’ve just been really lucky to work with the people that I’ve worked with so far. It’s a dream come true.

Is the Kinky Boots experience anything like American Idiot
My character in American Idiot was a very angry dude, but hopefully I could get people to care about him, so that at the end I haven’t lost them. That’s been my focus this journey, to make sure I can find balance between pushing away the factory workers and Lola in Act 2 and not pushing away the audience. There’s a fine line for me in the show—I have to capture the audience in the beginning and make them like me enough so that when I lose it in the second act, I don’t lose the audience as well. 

Did you guys have any idea how big the American Idiot fan base was going to become?
No. In terms of the Broadway Green Day fan base, I’m still blown away by it. It was so meaningful to be a part of that family.

What can fans look forward to in the American Idiot documentary premiering in Texas?
My particular journey was a little different from a lot of the others in the cast because I jumped on board American Idiot for Broadway. So there’s a lot of stuff in the documentary that I wasn’t there for. I’m excited to see it and to see where it started and how it was built. Doug [Hamilton], the filmmaker, is so talented and was such a part of our family that I know that he’ll do it justice.

Speaking of Texas, what’s your greatest memory of growing up in the Lone Star State?
I lived in Dallas, and it’s a big city, but you can jump on any freeway and drive in any direction for about 30 minutes and you are in the country—open space, wide open, very open, nothin’ around. You can’t quite do that in New York City. There’s a part of me that misses those wide-open skies.

You have an all-American handsomeness and look really young. When it comes to your career, what’s the best thing about that—and the worst thing?
The best thing has been, and continues to be, that I can play consistently younger than I actually am [34], and it started right out of college. Right away, I was auditioning for parts where if I got to the final callback it was usually between me, an adult, and the kid who was actually 15 or 16, and many times I would get the job because there was less hassle. What’s the worst thing? Well, I don’t know that there is. It’s been nothing but good. I look forward to playing my age someday, but so far it’s all good.

Tell us about your role in the Coen brothers’ next movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. What was it like to work with them?
There are no words. I got to work with my filmmaking heroes, and they didn’t cut me out of the movie, so I’m happy. The movie is about a folk singer named Llewyn Davis [stage vet Oscar Isaac] and he’s kind of a screw-up, just trying to catch a break. My character is another folk singer in the same part of the world, who is—surprise, surprise—a soldier who sings and plays guitar. Everything lands in my lap, and my character is the guy who he gets really frustrated by because I play a very kind of dunce-y, airhead type guy. It’s really fun. I’m so happy and so thrilled to be a part of that film and that family now.

You’ve done varied parts on TV. Do you wish for a long-running series? A cameo on the new Dallas?
I’m just so happy and fortunate to have been able to keep different aspects of this career going. I started out in film and television, and now, here I am on Broadway, doing plays and musicals. I’d love to be on a TV series someday, but I believe you get the jobs that you’re meant to get. If the job that I’m meant to get is another musical or another play or film or TV show, I’m just happy to keep working.

We haven’t seen you in a Broadway drama since Journey’s End. Is it a medium you want to return to? Any dramatic roles on your bucket list?
Definitely. I did a lot of Shakespeare when I was training, and I’ve been lucky to do a few Shakespeare plays here. I would love to play Romeo, let’s be honest. It’s something that I’m probably too old for now, but if you don’t print my age maybe I’ll get away with it [laughs].

Speaking of Shakespeare, you did Twelfth Night in the park with Anne Hathaway. Do you think she gets unfairly ragged on in the press and social media?
Yes. Annie’s so driven. She’s dedicated and I think that sometimes people read that the wrong way. She’s so talented, and she’s a great person and I don’t really think it’s fair the way people are reacting. It’s too bad because she’s such a lovely, lovely person.

You left Bonnie & Clyde after the show's pre-Broadway run at La Jolla. Do you have any regrets about not opening the show on Broadway?
I have such love for that show. I felt really bad for everyone involved that it didn’t have a life. It was a real shame. For me, personally, what happened was we did the run at La Jolla and the show needed another out-of-town run. The producers told us, “You guys hang in there, but go out and find work if you can.” Very shortly after it closed, I auditioned for and was offered the role of Tunny in American Idiot. Before I accepted, I called Jeff Calhoun, and he told me to take the American Idiot job with his blessing. Everything happens for a reason, and when I saw [Bonnie & Clyde] I was so blown away by Jeremy [Jordan].

How’s married life? Does Gemma enjoy living in NYC? Is she still writing?
Everything’s going really, really well.  She has a pilot in development in Los Angeles, and that’s probably as much as I should say because I’m superstitious. She’s not crazy about this Broadway schedule because in her world, night time is for spending with your family and your loved ones, and she puts up with it; I’m very grateful that she shares me with lots of other people from 8 o’clock to 11 o’clock at night.

Hightail it over to Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre to see Stark Sands in Kinky Boots.

Video On Demand
Sponsored by: