BWW Interviews: Kenny Morris Talks KINKY BOOTS at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
The Tony Award winning production of Kinky Boots dances it's way into Nashville this week with a touring stop at Tennessee Performing Arts Center. An accomplished actor, Kenny Morris plays Mr. Price in touring production of Kinky Boots. He has graciously agreed to take the time to answer some questions for our readers at Broadway World Nashville.
BroadwayWorld Nashville: You have a long and varied acting career. Theatre, television and movies have all made their way onto your resume. Do you have a favorite medium in which to work?
Kenny Morris: Definitely theater. TV and movies are technical media. You basically have to be matched to the light, and to the makeup requirement, and to the spot you can't move from -- once the hours and hours have passed for your 3 minute scene. The theater is a time honored tradition, an apprenticed art that you can study and develop a technique for, and learn to concentrate and relax, and even to project -- though most shows use body microphones anymore -- a shame, cause everything else about theater is still LIVE!
BWW Nashville: Can you share with our readers how you began your acting career?
Kenny Morris: I often joke that I began my career around 16 years old lip-synching in the mirror to my dad's Barbra Streisand records. But it WAS always in my blood. As a kid I loved looking at the ads for shows in the Sunday New York Times. I was in all my high school shows, I was president of my high school Drama Club, and then I double majored in Dramatic Art and Radio, TV, Motion Pictures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I moved to NYC the second college was over, and studied acting at Circle in the Square Professional Theater School and Workshop. After that, my dad, bless him, bought me my AFTRA card, and at that time after 6 months in good standing you were eligible to join Actors Equity. My first GREAT big job came along about 6 or 7 years later, the First National Bus and Truck Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring David Cassidy. And the rest, as they say, is history!
BWW Nashville: When glancing at your resume, I see such a variety of shows. You have covered every genre of theatre I can imagine. Do you have a type of show that you find the most challenging to perform? The most fun to perform?
Kenny Morris: I'm split down the middle on that one. I'm lucky enough to be an actor as well as a music theater performer. But when I'm in a musical, I often miss the hardcore integrity and focus of pure acting. When I'm in a "straight" play, I wish everyone would loosen up and camp it up a little more!!
BWW Nashville: What was your first introduction to Kinky Boots?
Kenny Morris: My spouse and I treated ourselves to house seats with another couple that we always see big Broadway shows with. It was then that I learned my friend and colleague Steve Berger was playing the role of MR. PRICE that I'm playing now. Ironically, I've replaced Steve twice before, and now for a THIRD time have inherited a role that he originated!!
BWW Nashville: You play Mr. Price, Charlie's father. Share with our readers the role that Mr. Price plays in the journey of Charlie and Lola.
Kenny Morris: Mr. Price propels the action in which Charlie meets Lola by DYING in the first five minutes of the production! It's a long story, and a very entertaining one, that I'm sure your readers would rather see in person than hear it from me!
BWW Nashville: Being on the road with this tour has to be interesting. Have you noticed different reactions from audiences in different regions? Have you had any memorable performances or encounters with audience members?
Kenny Morris: I'm a KB rookie. Nashville is only my sixth week with the production. I'm their first replacement! I joined the company on January 1st in Costa Mesa, CA where I rehearsed my role for those two weeks, and I began performing in Detroit for two weeks, one week in Des Moines last week, and now I'm here! There does seem to be a difference in audiences by region, but also by performance. Audiences are as different as actors' are at each performance. That's what keeps it live and keeps us communicating in a circle with each other.
BWW Nashville: What are your favorite parts about touring versus being in a production in one place? What are your least favorite parts?
Kenny Morris: I'm a mature guy now and married as I mentioned before, and have a house with my partner in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. When I was a young passionate actor, the ONLY thing I wanted to do was be on tour with a Broadway musical. Priorities change as time of life changes -- I never would have believed it -- but it's true! So although I would indeed prefer to be home in my personal life, I'm enjoying KINKY BOOTS more than anything else I could imagine performing in at the moment!
BWW Nashville: While you will certainly be busy while you are visiting Nashville, do you have anything in particular that you are looking forward to doing or seeing while you are in town?
Kenny Morris: My first set of best friends are going to visit me in Nashville. I'm soooo excited! The usual things I guess - Opryland, etc. But I've worked in Nashville before with two National Tours in the 1980's. So if any locals out there would like to recommend some down home culinary and other treats, I'm all ears!!
BWW Nashville: One of my favorite questions to ask those I interview is up next. If you could perform with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you perform?
Kenny Morris: That's a great question. My friend Mark Hardy and I met doing a production of FIDDLER at a dinner theater in Ravenna, OH and went on to become fast and famous friends. We then did the A NEW BRAIN together at Lincoln Center Theater (that's one of the roles I replaced Steve Berger in!), then the First National of SUNSET BLVD together, and finally LES MIZ on Broadway. I know it's not exactly the answer you're looking for but that theatrical relationship means the most to me of the many many cherished ones I've earned over the decades. Another answer that's closer - the second Tour I did through Nashville, DOUBLES, starred Robert Reed - singularly the most grounded and decent man I think I've ever known in my life. I understudied him so we never performed together, but I could have worked with him FOREVER!
BWW Nashville: In five words, can you tell our Nashville readers what to expect when Kinky Boots comes to town?
Kenny Morris: BEDLAM! TOTAL JOY!!! GET TICKETS!!!
Thanks again to Kenny Morris for taking the time to share with our Nashville readers. You can catch Kinky Boots at Tennessee Performing Arts Center beginning February 3 and running through February 8. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 615-782-4040.