Billy Porter during a performance of "Kinky Boots," which has earned a leading 13 Tony Award nominations.
By Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgher Billy Porter has even more reason than usual to kick up his heels -- his nomination for outstanding lead actor in a musical is among the 13 Tony Award nominations for best musical contender "Kinky Boots." The nominations announced Tuesday pit Mr. Porter, of East Liberty and Carnegie Mellon University, against his co-star, Stark Sands.
Mr. Porter has the showy role of a drag queen who inspires a milquetoast factory owner to create the title footwear.
Patina Miller, starring in the revival of "Pippin," by CMU alumnus Stephen Schwartz, was nominated as best lead actress in a musical.
After a show in Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Porter said his feet felt "just fine" despite all the walking and dancing in heels. He said two numbers had been cut since the show left Chicago, including one of his own. ("It was definitely the right thing to do.") But he still gets to strut his stuff, attracting nominations from Tony and Drama Desk judges. "Kinky Boots" features a book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, all nominees.
"I'm so thrilled for everyone involved, because it's really hard work putting on a show and you become a family, and it's nice to have the whole family recognized," Mr. Porter told Broadwayworld.com. "I'm so thrilled for my co-star Stark, because I wouldn't be able to Lola without him and it's amazing. I'm celebrating by sleeping and getting ready to go into this twirl-wind of activity. I need to sleep enough so I can do eight shows a week."
The show's chief competition at the June 9 awards ceremony likely will be the British import "Matilda," which had 12 nominations. "Pippin" received 10 nods, followed by "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," with nine.
Mr. Porter first appeared on Broadway in 1991's "Miss Saigon" and was Teen Angel in the 1994 revival of "Grease."
In his first Broadway show, multi-Oscar winner Tom Hanks was nominated for the play "Lucky Guy," by the late Nora Ephron. The Christopher Durang play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," which is coming to City Theatre next year, received six nominations, including best play. For a full list of nominations: tonyawards.com.