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Actress Karis Gallant talks about ‘beautiful and powerful message’ of Broadway’s ‘Kinky Boots’

“Kinky Boots” will be dancing on the Koger Center stage as the acclaimed Broadway musical comes to Columbia for a two-day run.

The play is part of the current season’s Broadway in Columbia lineup, with two shows being performed Jan. 13-14. Few tickets remain for the two shows.

The play debuted on Broadway in 2013, and won six Tony Awards that year, including Best Musical. Cyndi Lauper won a Tony for the score.

“Kinky Boots” is a high-energy production, inspired by true events. The show starts in a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton, where Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son.

With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos. An unlikely partnership — and friendship — evolves between Charlie and Lola, with some emotion, humor and lots of dazzle.

As “Kinky Boots’ continues its run on Broadway, in London and Japan, its traveling production performs around the world where it continues to collect critical and fan acclaim.

Karis Gallant, who plays spunky heroine Lauren in the show, answered some questions about “Kinky Boots” and her role.

Q. What makes “Kinky Boots” different from other plays?

A. I think “Kinky Boots” is one of those few musicals that successfully captures just about every feeling on the spectrum. It’s a musical, but it’s a play. It has sparkle and shine, as well as sweat and tears. You truly experience it all in this one — the colorful bright moments, as well as those more dark and saddening human moments. The choreography is dazzling, the music is soul-filled and catchy, and the book hits you in the gut —one second with laughs and the next second with pain. There is something so special about this musical and the plethora of things it gives a person, and it is unique for everyone. You have to see it to better understand what that something is for you!

Q. What is one thing folks should know before watching the play?

A. There isn’t much you need to know before seeing the show other than keeping an open mind and an open heart.

Q. What do you hope people talk about after the play?

A. The beautiful and powerful message and how we can all lead with it moving forward in our everyday lives. I hope people enjoy the show so much that they run to tell their friends about it, even the ones in other states, so that maybe they can catch a performance in a city near them.

Q. What are the challenges of playing your role?

A. The hardest part about Lauren is probably the comedy. Comedy is a tricky one to tackle. You want to be honest in your portrayal, surrounded by a cast of very honest characters, so that you don’t become cartoony and unrelateable. It’s easy to want to please people and make them laugh, but if you just do your work and live truthfully in your moments, the comedy comes with it and you don’t have to force a thing. Our director always told us to say what we mean and mean what we say, so I always remind myself of that before a show.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?

A. It’s kind of funny because my favorite thing about Lauren is also the comedy. She is so unapologetically herself and she is hysterical in doing so. I haven’t spent nearly as much time with her now as I will have by the end of our tour in June but as of today, I can already feel that this is one of those little gifts she’s slowly unraveling for me — being yourself and embracing your individuality. I also like that she’s a sneakers, jeans, and T-shirt kinda gal because I certainly love being comfy.

Q. How is your role different from any other you have played?

A. Two of the roles I played before this were Sandy in “Grease” and Olive in “Bullets over Broadway.” Often times, women have to play the dainty damsels in distress who need saving. The character of Lauren defies it all and is unconcerned with fitting into a mold of what a woman is supposed to be or say, which I admire. She embraces her inner weirdness, is self-sufficient, honest, loyal, and strong. I won’t lie to you, she does get some romance at the end because we have to give the people what they want. But that’s not her only purpose nor does it define her. Lauren is a wildflower who embodies it all, in my opinion. I love her already.

Q. What are the challenges of being in a traveling production?

A. One of the main challenges as an actor working in a traveling production is keeping in good health. Making sure your immune system is in-check, especially during allergy seasons and with the changes of climate. As a company, we spend most of our time together and a lot of that time is spent traveling or working in close quarters together so sickness can work itself quickly through the group. That being said, it’s important to stay hydrated, get good sleep, and take necessary precaution to stunt any possible sickness as best as you can so that you can perform to your best ability each night.

Q. What do you enjoy about being in a traveling production?

A. My favorite part of being a part of a traveling production is being able to explore the cities I’m in. There is so much of the states, as well as Canada, that I have not seen yet so it’s exciting to get to see a bit of that we’re not doing a show. We unfortunately don’t have extensive amounts of times to do so because Kinky Boots is our top priority, so we are aiming to bring it to as many cities as possible, which minimizes our free-time but we do get a nice chunk of it here and there to do said exploring. I also love connecting with and meeting new people.

If you go

‘Kinky Boots’

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 13; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14

Where: Koger Center, 1051 Greene St.

Cost: Tickets are $45-65, but few tickets remain for each show.

Info: Go to www.broadwayincolumbia.com for tickets and more information.

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