Does Lola in kinky boots have to be played by an African American actor?

Gmerchant123
Featured Actor
joined:9/9/12
Most definitely trying not to discriminate fyi. But do you think Porters replacement will be African American? Or can Lola be played by another race? Strange question. Once again, Trying not to be rude or racist. Just a thought that popped into my head. :)
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
well, considering the character was black in the movie i'd say its a safe bet its suppose to be played by a black actor on stage.
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
It's based on a real person who was black, so I'm going to say yes.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
This thread is racist.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
But Lola isn't American. (Just because one is black, doesn't make them an African American.)

And while the STORY doesn't really NEED the character to be black, the above posters are likely very correct that the producers WANT her to be.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
anmiller07
Leading Actor
joined:11/15/07
It probably has to be someone ethnic. In "The Land of Lola," she says "I'm your cocoa butter bitch." I think she's talking about her skin color. But I guess she could have a lot of stretch marks.

Updated On: 10/17/13 at 06:02 AM
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
^ touche. I haven't listened to the music since I left the theater.

(Maybe she could be a tanning addicted gal?)
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
Maybe I should say again that it is a real person who is black so the answer is just simply "yes".
macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
I don't know that there is a "real" Lola. I don't mean in the movie, I mean in the events that inspired the movie. According to this article, the idea of the factory producing the kinky boots was in response to a phone call from a woman who owned a fetish shop:

http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/features/the-real-story-behind-those-kinky-boots-1-881352
mybigsplash
Leading Actor
joined:4/30/08
Well Billy Elliot was white in the movie and based on a real life white community, but they had all sorts of minority races play him on Broadway. After that I assumed producers can do anything when It comes to casting. Race has no relevance onstage.
Stephen: "Could you grab me a coffee?" Me: "Would you like that with all the colors of the wind?"
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Race has no relevance onstage.

I'm sorry, but I could not disagree more with this statement...
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
"I'm Black Jesus, I'm Black Mary but this Mary's legs are hairy"

Does that answer your question?
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Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
"Race has no relevance onstage."

One of the absolute stupidest things ever said here.
mybigsplash
Leading Actor
joined:4/30/08
I think it should be done in blackface by Laura bell Bundy.
Stephen: "Could you grab me a coffee?" Me: "Would you like that with all the colors of the wind?"
PTOPhan
Featured Actor
joined:6/5/12
Jordan Catalano said, in response to the comment "Race has no relevance onstage," "One of the absolute stupidest things ever said here."

Jordan, I remember other threads about whether ethnicity (or sex) matters when someone is playing a role. Some folks did express views similar to the one you consider "stupid."

I have a fairly complex view of race on stage. First, it's tough enough for black actors to get good roles without the roles intended for black actors going to white actors. Second, there are roles where race doesn't matter -- does anyone really care whether Elphaba is played by a black or white actor? The key to Elphaba is that she's green. Third, if a role emphasizes ethnicity directly or indirectly, the actor playing the role should appear to be a member of the correct ethnic group; I think Carrie Underwood would look ridiculous playing Evita or Tevye's wife. Similarly, a black actor playing Eliza Doolittle or Henry Higgins would create confusion in the audience's mind because Higgins, as a member of the British upper class is definitely white -- if he weren't white, he couldn't have been upper class. Similarly, if Eliza were black or South Asian Indian, the story wouldn't make sense because at the time it was supposed to take place, perfect speech would NOT have allowed Eliza to move up in British society; she would have been held back by ethnicity and not just speech. Fourth, if a character's motivation would be different if he/she were a different ethnicity, an actor of a different race than the character should probably play the character as the original race. For example, if the Phantom of the Opera were black, his inability to live a happy life and obtain Christine's love could also have been because of racial intolerance, rather than just his face "that earned a mother's fear and loathing." I'd love to ask Robert Guillaume (the only black actor that I know of who has played the role) whether he played him as a black man or a white man -- I think the story comes across differently if the Phantom is viewed as black, and the point that the writers were making gets muddied.

In short, I agree with Jordan that race sometimes matters on stage, but I don't think it always matters by any means.
You alone can make my song take flight.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
One of my theatre professors made the following statement this semester that I found to be interesting...

"There is not such thing as color blind casting."

In other words, it is impossible to make the audience not consider the race of the actor. The race of the actor is part of the character IMO. Race is a defining factor in society, and you can not make the audience blind to it.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
TheatreFan4
Broadway Legend
joined:8/12/09
Not that I think they would, but if all that is cementing the race of a character is two lines in a single song then I don't think the case is that strong. Lyrics have changed to fit actor's race, height, or hair color in the past so there is precedent for it.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
There's really nothing in Kinky Boots that says that any character has to be any race. Race isn't a theme in the show.
somethingwicked
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/05
Kad, you are mistaken.

The lyrics of "The Land of Lola" make it explicitly clear that Lola is black multiple times. She literally sings, "That's me, ebony, I am Lola", as well as (like another poster pointed out), "I'm black Jesus, I'm black Mary, but this Mary's legs are hairy".

Not quite sure why this is even up for debate. They couldn't define the character's race within the story any more transparently than spelling it out in her introductory number.

Tonya Pinkins: Then we had a "Lot's Wife" last June that was my personal favorite. I'm still trying to get them to let me sing it at some performance where we get to sing an excerpt that's gone.
Tony Kushner: You can sing it at my funeral.
Updated On: 10/18/13 at 02:27 AM
TheatreFan4
Broadway Legend
joined:8/12/09
And lyrics aren't set in stone. They can be changed. What about the Lola character denotes black? Lola is black because Chiwetel Ejiofor was black.
"Hi there, we represent The Broadway Better Business Players for a Better Tomorrow. We're trying to start a petition to get second rate shows taken off the marquee and with your help we can stop Mamma Mia from ever playing again." -Brad Jones in Suburban Knights

"Is it true you have Ralph Jr at the bottom of your purse in a jar of formaldehyde?" - Felicia
"No, but I wish I did so I could shove it down your throat!" - Bernadette

"This play is sh*t! This play is sh*t! F*CK YOU TERRENCE MCNALLY!!"- Patti LuPone as an angry theatre goer at 'Master Class'

"Being normal is VASTLY overrated..."
- Aggie Cromwell
suestorm
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/13
Does Juliet have to be white? Does Big Daddy? Does Annie? Does Nick Fury?

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Updated On: 10/18/13 at 07:21 AM
ucjrdude902
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/07
I guess Lola doesn't since apparently Paul Canaan was on last night.
HeyMrMusic
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/04
The ol' race debate...oof. This is why shows like Cinderella, Trip to Bountiful, 110 in the Shade, and Billy Elliot win the Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award from Actors' Equity. Unless explicitly written into the play, the race of an actor shouldn't matter. If race should always be considered, Asian actors would and should only be allowed to be in shows like The King and I and Miss Saigon. Asians are the most underrepresented race on Broadway, and not for lack of talent. Because of lack of roles and producers/audiences with an open mind.

Does Lola need to be black? Because of two easily changeable lines in a song where the lyrics aren't terribly important but are just meant to be sassy? Maybe not.

And Eliza Doolittle was indeed Asian in the recent production in DC.
larrystyles
Understudy
joined:8/24/12
jeez, white people just can't let black people have anything can they?
JBroadway
Leading Actor
joined:4/6/12
Wait though, if ucjrdude902 is correct and Paul Canaan did go on for Lola last night, doesn't that kind of end this argument right there? If they have a white man covering the role, then the answer is no, Lola doesn't have to be played by a black person. I wonder if they changed the lyrics for him.
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Playbill shows two actors of color as standby/understudy for Lola.
So if that white dude went on, somebody better call Harvey
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