Nick is top left, and Ricky Schroeder (in blue shorts) is on the right.
I was excited when I read that Kinky Boots was going to be playing here in Las Vegas because I'd heard what a great show show it is and I'd been wanting to see it. I like Jerry Mitchell's work a lot, so I knew I'd really enjoy it. But I'd been dragging my feet on buying the ticket - trying to figure out which night would be best for me to go and just generally putting off making a decision until 'tomorrow.'
And then I read that Randy's boyfriend, Nick, had been cast as a dancer in the touring company, and I saw that Grace Stockdale had captioned a pic of herself and Randy at the end of the Atomic run on her Instagram "see you on the road, baby!" so that told me Randy was going to be at some of the performances along the tour. (Grace had also been cast in the tour.)
So then I took a gamble that Las Vegas might be one of the cities Randy would visit, and if it was, opening night would probably be a good bet as far as which performance he would attend. So I finally bought a ticket for opening night and prayed all my guessing was on the right track. Even if it was, I figured the odds were slim that I'd actually see him. The theater is huge, and there is always a vast sea of humanity filing into and out of it for these events.
I sat on a bench outside the stage door for an hour and 15 minutes before curtain, hoping to see Nick arrive and hoping Randy would be with him. I didn't see either of them, but it was cool to see Grace walk up and go in the stage door, Jerry Mitchell walk up in board shorts, tee shirt, and flip flops and go in, and also to see Cyndi Lauper (who won a Tony award for the Kinky Boots musical score) get out of a limo and enter the stage door right in front of me.
I'd purchased a seat in the center of the main floor, thinking that was my best vantage point to scope out the place in case Randy would be in the audience, and scoured each row before the show started. I still had no luck finding him, but I noticed Jerry Mitchell, now dressed in a nice shirt and slacks, discreetly slip into the house from a side door and sit in an aisle seat near the front.
The first half of the show was fantastic. Steven Booth played one of the lead roles, shoe factory owner Charlie Price, taking over for Stark Sands, who plays Charlie on Broadway. The other lead role is Lola, a sensational drag queen who's in desperate need of some sturdy footwear. Billy Porter won the 2013 Tony award for best actor in a musical for his Broadway portrayal of Lola. His understudy, Kyle Taylor Parker, was cast as the touring company's Lola, and he absolutely killed.
Lola has 6 backup dancers when she performs, the Angels, and every dance number in the show received wildly enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience. Nick blended in with the 6 dancers for the most part (which he was supposed to do LOL), but he and another guy were the only ones to perform a few gymnastic feats built into the choreography. His newly-dyed blond hair was covered by wigs for the entire show. I have to say, the Angel who stood out for me the most was Ricky Schroeder, a statuesque redhead who just looked regal every time he was on stage. His long legs and upper body carriage set him apart from the others, but aside from his pleasing aesthetic look, that kid can dance! He has that 'something extra' every star possesses. And, incidentally, he's Jerry Mitchell's boyfriend.
I stayed in my seat at the beginning of intermission, combing through the crowds making their way up the aisles. Just when I was scheming in my head that I'd come back to the theater every night during the show's 2 week run and hang out by the stage door before and after the performances to try to catch Nick (and hopefully Randy, too), I spotted him! He slowly walked by my row, just part of the huge mass of people migrating to the lobby. My first thought was OMFG! His hair is snow white!! It matches Nick's!! Stunned beyond belief that I actually saw him, I grabbed my things and stood up to follow him, but of course I couldn't move fast. The people in my row had to stand up to let me out, and squeezing past them one by one took forever. And then I became one of the masses trying to get to the lobby. I was sure I would't be able to find Randy once I got out there because he was so far ahead of me.
I milled around for a few minutes with my eyes peeled, and then I saw him in the middle of some people who had stopped him and asked for a picture. I waited until he was finished talking to them, inching closer all the while, and when he turned to leave them, I said, "Hi, Randy. Can I be next?" LOL I know - pretty lame, but I was nervous and couldn't come up with anything better. He looked at me for a long moment and said, "Oh, hi. Why do I feel like I know you? You look familiar." That broke the ice and I relaxed, knowing I was going to have a good conversation with him. I told him that I'd first met him in 2012 at Silence and his QWAN performance and that I'd also been at the L.A. con and had sat at his dinner table at the end of the day, and then he smiled and said, "Oh, right, right. I knew I'd seen you before." So that opened the door for a lot of discussion. I reminded him that I live here in Vegas and teach ballet and that I was the one at the dinner in L.A. who asked him if he was a lefty because I'd seen him do a double pirouette to the left in Swan, and then he knew exactly who I was. He was so sweet and not rushed at all and seemed happy to just stand there and talk to me. I told him I liked his hair and asked when he did it, and he said last week.
He asked how I was liking the show and I said I loved it. I knew which dancer was Nick, but for conversation's sake, I said, "Nick wore the blond ponytail in that last number, right? He did the walkover?" And that got him very animated. He lit up and nodded 'yes' with dancing eyes. So adorable. Then he said, "If you saw Silence, you saw him in that, didn't you?" I said, "Yeah, he was great in that. He did all the partnering work with Ashley Dupree."
I asked if he'd take a pic with me and he graciously said yes, so I asked an usher if she would use my phone to take a pic of us. When she handed it back to me, I asked Randy if I could get one of just him and he said, "Yeah, sure." Then we walked back into the theater together and he said, "Well, enjoy the rest of the show," as I was returning to my seat. He walked down the aisle farther and turned into a row that was about 10 in front of me. Needless to say, I spent most of the 2nd act gazing at the back of that beautiful head of white hair.
The cast received a rousing standing ovation at the end, and Randy was on his feet making exaggerated claps over his head. He was making his way toward the side door that Jerry Mitchell had used to get into the house before I lost sight of him, so I guessed it lead to backstage. I was completely satisfied that I'd gotten to see and talk to him, and thought about leaving because I didn't want to be a nuisance to him, but the fangirl in me won out and I decided to wait by the stage door again to see if he and Nick would emerge together.
After awhile they did come out together, and Randy was holding a small flower arrangement that had been delivered to Nick before the show. (I'd seen a delivery guy go in the stage door with it before the show and come back out without it, but I didn't know it was for Nick until I saw Randy holding it for him.) Anyway, I waited around and watched while they talked to a small group of people who seemed like friends of Nick's who were congratulating him, and then I went up to Randy and said, "I don't want to bug you, but can I meet Nick?" LOL I could just hear him thinking 'Oh, God, it's her again,' but he was really nice and said, "Yeah, sure." He told Nick, "This is Linda," and I shook hands with Nick and told him how much I loved the show and that his dancing and tumbling were great. He thanked me, and I told him, "First I was a fan of Randy's, and now I'm a fan of yours. I used to dance in Nevada Dance Theater when I was young, but now I'm old so I'm a teacher," and all 3 of us laughed at that. I told him this is my hometown, too, and that I have a dance studio here, and we talked about dance for a little bit. I asked him if Dan Durrie had been his ballet teacher (I already knew he'd studied with him from my mad interwebz sleuthing skillz) and he said, "He was." I told him that I'd sold one of my branch studios to Dan in the early 90's, and he and Randy were both like 'Okay, she knows STUFF.' LOL (Sadly, Dan died of AIDS in the mid 90's.) I also asked Nick if he knew a few people who had gone to the performing arts high school here in town with him who were also my students, and he said yes, which amazed them both even further. (I'd gone through my old enrollment cards beforehand to find out which ones had graduated around the same time Nick did so I'd be in the ballpark with people he might know.)
I asked Randy how long he was going to be in town, and he said, "Just until tomorrow." I don't know how this ever came out of my mouth, but I said, "Oh, that's too bad. I was going to ask you guys if you wanted to come over for a home cooked Italian meal." Nick didn't quite know what to say to that, (and he was probably thinking 'Randy, you have some whack job fans') but Randy said, "That's so nice. I wish I didn't have to leave tomorrow."
I also told Randy that I thought he would make a great Charlie Price. It's mostly a dramatic role with lots of singing solos and minimal dancing. He dances really well, but I know he'd described himself in one radio interview as an 'acceptable mover' when asked about it, so I think it's a role he'd be very comfortable with. He looked at me sideways with one shoulder kind of up, like he wasn't sure about that, but I said, "Seriously, that's a perfect role for you. I kept hearing your voice all through 'Soul of a Man' in that second act."
When I thought I'd monopolized their time long enough, I wrapped it up. We all said 'bye' and they said, "Have a nice night," and I said, "You, too," and they walked across the parking lot one way (with Randy carrying Nick's flowers for him) and I headed the other way to my car. Both of them couldn't have been nicer. I still can't believe how it all worked out!
And now . . . some visual treats:
Jerry Mitchell and Cyndi Lauper
Rehearsal at the Smith Center. Nick can be seen on the left of the pic.
These next three are of Ricky Schroeder and Jerry Mitchell, the cutest May/December romance since Justin and Brian: one --- two --- and three
The last two are Ricky in drag. Damn! That boy makes a beautiful woman! one --- two