Cyndi Lauper wins Tony award for ‘Kinky Boots’ music

By Chris Michaud

(Reuters) – Pop queen Cyndi Lauper and actress Judith Light won early Tony awards on Sunday as Broadway presented its top honors, with leading contenders “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda” each taking home multiple awards while women won both the directing honors.

Lauper won best score for her first Broadway musical, “Kinky Boots,” an adaptation of a British film about a struggling shoe factory reinventing itself by making boots for drag queens. The hit musical topped the nominations with 13 and also won best choreography, orchestrations and sound design.

A tearful Lauper said “I can’t say I wasn’t practicing in front of the shower curtain for the past couple of days,” and went on to “thank Broadway, for welcoming me.”

Light, known to television audiences for the sitcom “Who’s the Boss” but also an acclaimed stage actress, won her second consecutive Tony, for “The Assembled Parties,” in which she plays a Jewish wife and mother, first in 1980 then in 2000.

She paid tribute to her fellow nominees, saying “you have made this a celebration, not a competition.” Light won the same award last year as an alcoholic in “Other Desert Cities.”

Courtney B. Vance won best featured actor in a play for the late Nora Ephron’s journalism drama “Lucky Guy,” expected to win Tom Hanks a best actor Tony in his Broadway debut. “It’s nice to meet you fella’,” he said backstage, gazing at his award.

Gabriel Ebert was named best featured actor in a musical for his turn as the slimy father in “Matilda,” saying in a rapid-fire speech that he was “really freaked out” by his win.

“Matilda,” an Olivier-award winning musical which had 12 Tony nominations, is based on a story by Roald Dahl about a freakishly intelligent little girl’s persecution by her crass family and a fearsome school headmistress.

Andrea Martin won best featured actress in a musical for “Pippin.”

Women won both directing Tonys: Diane Paulus won for musical direction for her circus-themed revival of the seminal 1970s show “Pippin,” while Pam MacKinnon won the direction of play Tony for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” quipping “Vegas got this one wrong” about her long-shot status.

The award for best book of a musical went to Dennis Kelly for “Matilda the Musical,” which also won for scenic design.

Veteran playwright Christopher Durang won his first Tony, for best play, for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a comic riff on Anton Chekhov’s work that stars Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce.

The show at Radio City Music Hall featured appearances by the casts of most-nominated musicals “Kinky Boots, “Matilda” and “Pippin,” and opened with show host Neil Patrick Harris leading a lavish, satirical production featuring the casts of those shows as well as “Cinderella,” “Spiderman” and even Mike Tyson, who did a one-man show this season and briefly dueted with Harris.

Presenters at the awards included best actor nominee Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Jesse Eisenberg, Jon Cryer, Liam Neeson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Zachary Quinto, Sally Field and Jesse Tyler Ferguson among others.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud and Kat Wiessner; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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Megan Hilty, Cyndi Lauper & More Join Presenters for 67th ANNUAL TONY AWARDS Read more about Megan Hilty, Cyndi Lauper & More Join Presenters for 67th ANNUAL TONY AWARDS

A roster of Hollywood’s brightest stars will appear on THE 67TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS, live from Radio City Music Hall, Sunday, June 9 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. Confirmed to take the stage to honor Broadway’s best are Laura Benanti, Alan Cumming, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Barrett Foa, Jake Gyllenhaal, Megan Hilty, Anna Kendrick, Jane Krakowski, Cyndi Lauper, Audra McDonald, Matthew Morrison, Hal Prince, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Mike Tyson, Sigourney Weaver, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Steven Van Zandt.

They join previously announced presenters Jon Cryer (TWO AND A HALF MEN), Jesse Eisenberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Hanks (Tony nominee), Scarlett Johansson and Martha Plimpton. Actor Neil Patrick Harris (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER) will host the awards show, which honors theater professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway.

This year marks the 67th anniversary of the TONY Awards, which were first held on April 6, 1947 at the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. The ceremonies are presented by Tony Award Productions, which is a joint venture of The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, which founded the Tonys.

The June 2011 broadcast of “The 65th Annual Tony Awards” was honored this past year with four Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Program, Outstanding Art Direction for Variety or Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.

Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment will return as executive producers. Weiss will also serve as director for the 14th consecutive year.

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Cyndi Lauper Can Hardly Believe She Gets a Sardi’s Caricature

Cyndi Lauper - Sardi's Caricature
The pop sensation turned musical theater composer has become one of the immortals of Broadway.

By David Gordon

Cyndi Lauper, whose new musical Kinky Boots has made her a 2013 Tony nominee, was awarded one of Broadway’s most exciting honors. A caricature of her will hang on the walls of famed midtown restaurant Sardi’s. Lauper received and signed her caricature at a ceremony at the restaurant on June 5.

Kinky Boots, the new drag queen-themed Broadway musical for which Lauper wrote the music, is the story of a Charlie Price, a young man whose recently deceased father has left him a nearly bankrupt shoe factory. He teams up with a sassy drag performer named Lola to save the family business.

The “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” singer’s previous Broadway experiences include a starring role opposite Alan Cumming in the 2006 revival of Brecht and Weill’s Threepenny Opera.

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Cyndi Lauper’s Big Surprise as ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ Turns 30


Cyndi Lauper has plenty to celebrate – and she’s not doing it alone.

Not only is the singer-songwriter Tony-nominated for her critically acclaimed score to the best-musical contender Kinky Boots, but she’s also marking the 30th anniversary of the monster hit that first put her on the map, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” which she released in 1983.

To celebrate? She was totally surprised by the Kinky Boots ensemble. After quietly securing permission from Lauper’s manager and her record company, Sony Music, they assembled this performance music video (see below) of Lauper’s signature number.

“It’s so sweet, I’m crying,” Lauper, 59, during a quick break from rehearsal Monday, told PEOPLE of her reaction to what was done – and about those who participated. She first saw the video Sunday night, before it was posted to YouTube.

“The Kinky Boots cast is so funny, and all the other shows participating is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.

The four-minute video’s guest-star girls – all with boots in hand – include Kelly Ripa,Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Katie Couric, Holland Taylor, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and, in addition to Kinky Boots, members of the casts from such current Broadway shows as Annie, The Lion King, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Phantom of the Opera, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark andChicago.

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Cyndi Lauper having the time of her life with Kinky Boots


Critics agree singer’s score has driven success of Kinky Boots, nominated for 13 Tony Awards

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NEW YORK—Girls just want to have hits. Ask Cyndi Lauper.

The husky-voiced bottle blond with the killer smile has sold 50 million albums, 20 million singles and won Grammy, Emmy, MTV and Billboard awards.

Now she’s got her eye on the Tony.

In one of the true eye-opening surprises of the 2012-2013 Broadway season, Lauper’s debut as a Broadway songwriter with the music and lyrics for the hit show Kinky Boots has been the feel-good story of the year.

Despite the presence of legendary Harvey Fierstein as author of the book and hitmaker Jerry Mitchell as the staging Svengali, most critics agree that it’s Lauper’s “heat-seeking score” (in the words of the New York Times) that drives the show’s success and has given it a very good chance of winning many of the 13 Tony Awards for which it was nominated, including the all-important Best Musical.

It’s a crazy show, based on a small 2005 British film of the same name that tells of an independent British shoe factory that, when faced with closing its doors, switches to the niche market of making shoes for drag queens, the “kinky boots” of the title.

“Oh my God, I’m so excited about it,” Lauper rasps/squeaks in a voice that sounds like a drag queen playing Minnie Mouse. “Who’d a thunk it? Little Cynthia Ann Lauper maybe winning a Tony Award. Excuse me while I just lie down and faint for a coupla minutes.”

She’s caught up in the tsunami of public relation appearances that lead up to the Tonys on June 9 and she’s doing this interview from her apartment during a window squeezed in between numerous media events.

“This is so crazy and, believe me, after all my years in the pop music business, I know all about crazy.”

She burst on the scene in 1983 with her album She’s So Unusual, which yielded four solid-gold hits, including the cheeky “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” which became her unofficial anthem. There were ups and downs in the years that followed, but she was firmly entrenched as a pop icon in everyone’s mind.

So why, after all this time, did she want to write a Broadway score?

“That music was part of my growing up and I always loved it, but I just never had the time.”

She dipped her toe in the legit waters in 2006, when she appeared as Jenny in the Roundabout Theatre’s production of The Threepenny Opera, with Alan Cumming starring as Macheath.

“That’s when I learned about how great Broadway could be. They treated me in such a welcoming way, and they’re good eggs and they take care of their own. They’ve always got your back.”

She laughs raucously. “When you’re on a pop tour it’s all rock ’n’ roll, baby, and they keep you up all night. On Broadway, it’s, ‘Cyndi, you’ve got a rehearsal tomorrow, go home instead of having another glass of wine.’”

You can see the attraction she felt to the Great White Way, but what made her finally start writing Kinky Boots?

“I wanted to be connected to Harvey (Fierstein), because he is just the most brilliant storyteller,” she said about the gravel-voiced actor/author who has the books for La Cage Aux Folles and Newsies to his credit.

“He and Jerry (Mitchell, the director) both really wanted me to do the show and when someone really wants ya, hell, that makes it hard to say no, ya know what I mean? But because they believed in me, I wanted to give them something really good.”

Critics and audiences agree that Lauper did herself and her collaborators proud with her score and on being told so, she says, “I’m so glad. You know, it took 41/2 years. Put this song in, take that song out, write a new one, rewrite an old one, move it all around, God!

“I asked Harvey and Jerry, ‘What are the rules?’” and they said, ‘There are no rules, Cyndi,’ which kinda scared me at first, then I realized that I did know the rules. I grew up knowing them.”

She’s thinking of the home she grew up, in the Ozone Park section of Queens in New York City. She was born on June 22, 1953, which puts her within hailing distance of her 60th birthday, if you’re counting.

Broadway musicals were the pop culture rock that her family built their listening habits on and Lauper happily deconstructs the score of Kinky Boots, explaining where she got the inspiration for a lot of the songs.

“Especially for the older characters, I threw in a feel of a bit of this and a bit of that.” She lets go with a surprisingly sweet version of a song from a 1962 musical called All American.

“Once upon a time . . .” she begins, then giggles. “You see, now I’m pulling in my mom. And that song the father sings in the show? Well that’s ‘With a Little Bit of Luck’ fromMy Fair Lady. Oh God, I think of all the songs I learned and remembered while I was destroying my mother’s long playing records. I take music and I collect it and then I hold on to it.”

Lauper’s joyful eclecticism fortunately didn’t stop with the golden age of musical theatre, because the show needed some hipper voices it was going to channel its unique cast of characters.

“What excited me about this show was the possibility that everybody could have their own musical style. I knew that Lola (the leading drag queen figure) could be this awesome character whose music could draw on everyone from Sylvester to Michael Jackson.

“When a character needed a big courageous walkout number, I put myself into Gloria Gaynor mode and ‘I Will Survive.’ For some of the other young girls, I went back to my Blue Angel days. I took all the things I loved and played around with them a bit. It’s just a melodic trail to suck people into the story and tell it with both flash and depth.”

Flash and depth. Good words to describe the 2013 edition of Lauper, a woman who found herself by putting music and lyrics into the mouths of many different characters.

“That’s the neatest part. If you actually put the time in and do it carefully, you can hear the difference in what they’re singing. I just love it.”

And, as always, Lauper makes no bones about speaking her mind about the whole Kinky Boots experience, whether or not she and her show win any of those 13 Tonys on June 9.

“It’s the most extraordinary time of my life. It is, honey. You can write that down.”

FIVE FAVE MUSICAL INFLUENCES

JUDY GARLAND: She taught me what showmanship was. How to build a number, how to sell it, how to win audience over.

BILLIE HOLIDAY: With her, you never saw the knife going into her heart. You just felt the pain she did as it slowly bled out.

ELLA FITZGERALD: From her, I learned class and how important it was to make every lyric count.

THE BEATLES: They could write and sing in so many styles, but they were always still The Beatles. That’s what I envy.

TINA TURNER: She was all about guts and power and keeping a smile on your face no matter what kind of stuff was going down.

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It’s good to Just Be Cyndi Lauper

Pop music icon Cyndi Lauper knows the secret to happiness.

She, in fact, wrote six steps anyone can follow to experience contentment or elation in life. The steps are featured in a song titled “Just Be,” an integral part of the Tony-nominated musical “Kinky Boots.” Lauper wrote the music and lyrics for the show, which had its Broadway premiere April 4.

The steps are: Pursue the truth; learn something new; accept yourself and you’ll accept others; let love shine; let pride be your guide; and change the world when you change your mind. They encapsulate the message of the musical, according to Lauper, who turns 60 in June.

“If you accept yourself for who you are, the good and the not-so-good traits about yourself that you don’t like, you can accept others too,” she says. “And nothing can stop you.”

Lauper, who’s scheduled to perform Saturday at the annual Evening Under the Stars benefit in Palm Springs, recently discussed her new career ventures — including her We-TV reality series, “Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual” — and plans to celebrate her 30 years in show business with fans.

DPW: How does writing the music and lyrics for a musical compare to writing and recording songs for an album?

LAUPER: During the writing process for “Kinky Boots,” I had to write songs for everyone in the cast. So I had to write for these other voices, not just my own. The main story behind “Kinky Boots” is two men who appear to be real opposites — one white, one black, one straight, one a drag queen, one from the streets, and one from middle class — and how they come together to help each other and save a factory. I had to write for Lola (the drag queen), which obviously wasn’t a stretch for me (laughs), a young conflicted twentysomething-year-old man, a brutish factory worker, etc. It was so much fun.

When I perform songs I often pretend to be someone other than myself to bring a certain emotion or intent to a song. In a way, it wasn’t a huge stretch to put myself in other people’s shoes to write songs for them.

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Cyndi Lauper to celebrate She’s So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper has revealed plans to embark on a tour in celebration of the 30th anniversary of her debut album, She’s So Unusual. The summer outing will stop in Massachusetts for a performance at the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford on Tuesday, July 9. Tickets for the concert, which range in price from $48 to $68, are now on sale through the venue’s box office and website. Canadian rockers Hunter Valentine will open the show.

“It’s been such an amazing year for me,” said Cyndi Lauper in a press release. “When I realized it’s also the anniversary of the album that started my solo career, I knew it was the perfect time to thank my fans for sticking with me through it all. I’m so excited to perform She’s So Unusual from beginning to end, song by song and I can’t wait to see everyone!”

Recorded and released in 1983, She’s So Unusual features some of Lauper’s biggest hits including “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, “Time After Time”, “She Bop”, “Money Changes Everything” and “All Through the Night”. She became the first female artist to have four top 10 singles on a debut album. It went on to sell over 16 million copies worldwide and won Lauper a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Lauper has remained busy over the past few years, most recently by scoring the the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots”. Earlier this week, it was announced the musical received the most Tony Awards nominees with 13 nods, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Earlier this year Lauper partnered with mega-producer Mark Burnett to star in her own WE TV realty show, “Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual”. Last Fall, she released her New York Times Best Selling autobiography, “Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir”.

In the past five years, Lauper has released two diverse and critically-acclaimed albums with 2008′s Bring Ya to the Brink (which featured two #1 Billboard Dance tracks) and 2010′s Memphis Blues (the top selling Blues album of 2010).

The tour will close in Connecticut with a performance at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket on Saturday, July 13. Tickets for the show will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster for $40.

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‘Kinky Boots’ leads Tony nominations with 13

By Chris Michaud, Reuters

Kinky Boots

NEW YORK — The musical “Kinky Boots,” with the score by pop star Cyndi Lauper, on Tuesday earned 13 nominations for the Tony Awards, leading the field for Broadway’s highest honor and closely followed by British import “Matilda,” which received 12.

Both shows were nominated for best musical, along with “Bring It On: The Musical” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” Lauper was nominated for best score along with book writer Harvey Fierstein and three members of the show’s cast.

Hollywood star Tom Hanks was nominated for best actor in his Broadway debut in the Nora Ephron play “Lucky Guy,” which received six nominations, including a best play nomination for Ephron, the writer and film director who died in June.

Also nominated for best play were “The Assembled Parties,” “The Testament of Mary” and “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

A revival of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” led play nominations with eight, including director Bartlett Sher.

Several Hollywood stars, including Cicely Tyson, Laurie Metcalf, Holland Taylor and David Hyde Pierce also won nominations for acting in plays.

Taylor earned a nomination for her portrayal of former Texas governor Ann Richards in “Ann” but Bette Midler was left out for her star turn as agent Sue Mengers in “I’ll Eat You Last.”

Another glaring omission was one of the season’s biggest box office hits, “Motown the Musical,” about the record label founded by Berry Gordy, in the best musical category. The show received only four nominations, including one for actress Valisia LeKae who plays Diana Ross.

Other top-nominated shows included the first Broadway revival of the 1970s hit “Pippin,” which took 10 nominations, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which received nine nods. Both were cited for best revival of a musical, along with “Annie” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

The other best revival of a play nominees included “Orphans,” “The Trip to Bountiful” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” which won nominations for lead actors Tracy Letts and Amy Morton.

The strong showing by “Kinky Boots,” an adaptation of a little-seen British movie about a struggling shoe factory that reinvents itself by making boots for drag queens, was a surprise to many who expected the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” an Olivier-Award winner in London, to dominate.

“Boots” received nominations for Fierstein, director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell and both male leads, Stark Sands and Billy Porter, in addition to several technical awards.

“Matilda” earned nominations for best book, score and for Matthew Warchus’ directing. Three cast members were also nominated, notably actor Bertie Carvel, who plays the fearsome school headmistress in the ecstatically reviewed show.

The nominations were announced by Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The awards will be presented on June 9 at Radio City Music Hall.

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Cyndi Lauper: Trouper for Tohoku

By Sarah Berlow

Colorful eighties pop icon Cyndi  Lauper already has singer, songwriter, and actress on her resume. Now she has another string to her bow: unofficial spokesperson for the Tohoku region.

Last March 11, Ms. Lauper arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport to find that Japan, where she has toured frequently since 1983, was being rocked by the triple disasters of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Instead of fleeing, Ms. Lauper continued with her concert tour plans, and promised to return the next year.

Ms. Lauper kept her promise, visiting the disaster zone in the Tohoku region last week. The visit took her to Ishinomaki city, Miyagi prefecture, where she visited an elementary school and donated a locally restored piano, along with a cherry tree.

“I played in Tokyo, and when I sang ‘True Colors,’ everyone sang back to me,” Ms. Lauper told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Monday,  referring to one of her early concerts in Japan. The singer said was the first time she had ever heard the hit song, which she describes as being about healing, sung back to her.

When the disasters struck, she said, she and her band stuck by her musical philosphy that “rock-n-roll can heal the world,” staying to try to help Japan through her music.  “If I left, what would ‘True Colors’ have meant anyway? What kind of healing song would it have been if I came in singing that and then hightailed it out of here because it looked a little scary?”

This year Ms. Lauper is continuing in the same vein, performing throughout Japan, while also encouraging her Japanese fans to buy its local products to help the economy, and not isolate the people of Tohoku.

She also had some frank words for the Japanese government, asking it for full disclosure on possible radiation contamination in Tohoku.

“When you don’t know, you’re fearful and you feel powerless.” Ms. Lauper said. “Information is power.” Ms. Lauper’s parting words were also in support of Tohoku: “Have a sake for me from Fukushima, it’s pretty good!”

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Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots Will Premiere in Chicago; Broadway to Follow

Kinky Boots, the new musical by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein and Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper, will make its world premiere at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre this fall. After the Chicago run, the musical, directed and choreographed by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, aims to strut to Broadway. No Broadway timeline or casting for either production has been announced.

Inspired by a true story and based on the 2005 film, Kinky Boots follows Charlie Price as he, after the sudden death of his father, is forced to step in and save his family’s shoe factory in Northern England. Help comes from the unlikeliest angel, a fabulous drag performer named Lola. Together, this improbable duo not only revitalizes the nearly bankrupt business, but helps one another grow into the men their fathers always dreamed their sons would become, and transforms an entire community through the power of acceptance.

Kinky Boots will be presented by Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig. The musical marks Lauper’s theatrical debut as a writer. She appeared as Jenny in the 2006 revival of The Treepenny Opera.

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