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'Kinky Boots' star Billy Porter previews his new CD, duet with Cyndi Lauper -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LISTEN

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To say it’s been a good year for Billy Porter would be an understatement. The Broadway star achieved critical acclaim for his role as “Lola” in the Cyndi Lauper/Harvey Fierstein hit musical Kinky Boots, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this April. Porter also secured a well-deserved Tony Award in 2013, as well as a Grammy for the show’s original cast album, and is now planning to release his first solo album in almost a decade. Titled Billy’s Back On Broadway, the debut CD from Concord Records will be released April 15, featuring a collection of classic Broadway tunes with a new, inspired twist.

EW sat down with the actor to find out the details behind what inspired him to create his CD, and get his thoughts on what has been, in his words, “an amazing time” on Broadway. Hit the jump for more and to hear an exclusive first-listen of Porter’s duet with Lauper.
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'Kinky Boots' stars Billy Porter and Stark Sands: Broadway's new dynamic duo

With a score by Cyndi Lauper and a book crafted by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots seemed designed in a lab to be a Broadway smash. And in fact, it has lived up to that billing: Last week, it topped over $1 million in receipts, joining some rare company on the current theater landscape.

The music is exceptional, but a healthy portion of the show’s success has rested on the shoulders of the two leads, whose performance prowess and on-stage chemistry have made them into Broadway’s best new duo.

“The director said, ‘I’d like you to be in this musical, and Cyndi Lauper is writing the music and Harvey Fierstein is writing the book.’ You don’t really think twice about that. You hear those names, and you say yes,” Stark Sands, who plays shoe factory owner Charlie Price, told EW. “I didn’t really even look at the script. When I heard who was involved, I knew it would be good.”

Sands has been able to carry the show alongside Billy Porter, who plays the brash, idealistic drag queen Lola. Over the course of the show, the two of them recognize a strength in one another, best expressed in a centerpiece duet that bares both characters’ complicated relationships with their dads.

“I love them all, but the centerpiece for me is ‘I’m Not My Father’s Son,'” Porter told EW. “Lola at the beginning of the show masquerades as what I was pigeonholed to be. Then all of a sudden it completely drops in. It’s interesting to sense the audience go, ‘Oh, wait a minute, Lola’s not just a clown. Lola is a human being, and now we’re all required to experience her as a human being.’ ‘I’m Not My Father’s Son’ is the pinnacle of that, and it allows me to express that side of the character and also that side of myself.”

And though Kinky Boots took its time in development, “I’m Not My Father’s Son” benefitted from some good old fashioned theater magic.  READ FULL STORY

This Week On Stage: Tom Hanks and Cyndi Lauper take on Broadway

It was a notable week on the boards, one that included the Broadway debut of a most-beloved film star, a reboot of a musical two-hander with quite a vocal fanbase, and the Main Stem composing debut of an ’80s pop icon. (Click on the links below to read our full reviews.)

Lucky Guy A smoky, New York-flavored ode to Mike McAlary, the respected and feared tabloid journo who exposed corruption in the NYC police ranks, Lucky Guy brings two-time Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks to the Great White Way, courtesy of a script by the late, adored Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle). But despite good notices for Hanks in most circles, critic Lisa Schwarzbaum was duly unimpressed, citing that “two hours of Lucky Guy and a theater-goer with no previous knowledge of McAlary and his tabloid cronies will still have no idea why Ephron was so enamored of this blowhard” and that the production “feels so inconsequential and dramatically inert.” EW grade: C+ READ FULL STORY

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