What is there to say about the guy who is changing the face of production? He is a true renaissance man and he is here to stay and slay in these red Kinky Boots.
I met Todrick through a friend, MadTV's Carlie Craig, though I've followed his work since high school. You may remember one of his first videos that went viral on YouTube - when viral had just become a thing. It was Beauty and the Beat. According to mtv.com, they moved Bell from the "small streets of France to the 'hood," and there they found a voice and a fanbase.
A fanbase is absolutely what Todrick has. He's genius both onstage and off. As a Broadway vet (Disney's Beauty and the Beast and the original cast of The Color Purple), he knows how to delve into a role but how to keep is image and brand alive. In today's world of performance, having a strong social media presence is important - and Todrick has mastered it. Since then, he has gone off to recreate his version Hocus Pocus called Hocus Broke-us, and The Cell Block Tango (Chicago) called Spell Block Tango, release Straight Outta Oz (his third solo album which would then tour around the US and Canada), and collaborate with Colleen Ballinger and Taylor Swift. All while producing videos and images on YouTube and Instagram. Next was the gig which exposed him to even more people: becoming a judge for season two of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars. And to cap it off, he stepped into the shoes of Lola in Kinky Boots from November 1st, 2016 to March 5th, 2017. An impressive journey, I might say.
Todrick has star quality. It shines when he's onstage and it doesn't dim off stage. When I first met him, he took the time out to get to know me and understand my artistry. I love this business and so does he - so we had a good chat. When we met, the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars had not been crowned yet and I so desperately wanted to shout out, "tell me who won, already!" But I remained chill, despite my excitement.
I come into the spacious dressing room in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. There's a couch, a giant dressing area, an entrance way, a mini fridge, a private bathroom, and room to do cartwheels. Many apartments in NYC aren't even this big.
LaSonya Gunter had already begun working on Todrick's beat. For those of you not familiar with the drag scene, according to RuPaul's Drag Race Wiki, being beat is:
- (Beating a face) v. To apply the perfect amount of makeup on the face, resulting in a flawless look. The term references the motion of constantly dabbing a makeup sponge or brush against one's face.
i.e. "Her face is beat for the gods."
It's an amazing process, drag make up. You would often hear a drag queen speak out against day drag, because usually a queen is beat for darker stage or club lighting. The sun or fluorescent lighting is not very forgiving to a drag queen. Layers of foundation is caked onto the mug (face) and the facial structure is accentuatedthrough the process of highlighting, shadowing, and contouring. Some drag queens, like Chad Michaels as Cher, even get plastic surgery to look like the celebrities they impersonate.
Todrick is not a drag queen for a living, though he has done drag on stage and in videos - so you won't see any body modification there. Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway who happens to be a drag queen for a living - and we also meet Simon, who is Lola out of drag.
As you can see, Todrick is also a multi - tasker. He doesn't stop - even when getting his make up done. Here he is on the phone with the woman who does his nails.
It was obvious to see that Lola doesn't live too far away from Todrick. I could tell as Todrick was warming up for his performance. Even the make up application is the warm up. The look helped get him into the fierce and fiery mindset of Lola.
There was a beautiful moment of endearing sincerity in the middle of the preparation for the evening performance. And wouldn't you know? It was influenced by the power of social media. While scrolling though his phone and casually checking on direct messages to his account - he came across a message from a father who was bringing his little boy to the show. The father proclaimed that his son loves to wear dresses and it would be amazing to meet him after the show. Todrick immediately started going into working mode to see how he can make this families night special.
I'm not sure the outcome, but it's a testament to the person and artist that Todrick Hall truly is. He's about experience and community, which his dressing room even reflected. As Todrick finished his make up process and got his mic on, it was time for wig and costume. But in between then a big dance party erupted, involving all in the room. On the surface, it seemed fun and sporadic, but deep down I could tell it was necessity. I saw Lola physically start to take shape. Todrick's energy shifted into someone who didn't exist just a few minutes ago: Lola had appeared.
And with that, I was out. Places had been called and it was time to start the show. Todrick only had a few more performances left as this was his final week in Kinky Boots.