A couple of years back, Adam Kaplan had a night off from his role in "Newsies" on Broadway, and he decided to take in another show. He went to see "Kinky Boots," which was one of the season's biggest hits.
"When I first saw it on Broadway, I couldn't stop smiling," he said. "It was such a good time. I whistled the songs on my way out, and I bought the CD."
He had no idea at that time that he soon be starring in "Kinky Boots." He plays Charlie Price, the manufacturer of the titular footwear, in the U.S. tour of the show. It's coming to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa for eight performances beginning Tuesday.
The tour started in September of 2014, but Kaplan just joined about a month ago. He's at home in Connecticut now on a two-week Thanksgiving break. The tour comes to Tampa right after the break.
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But Kaplan performed at the Straz earlier this season. He was still in "Newsies" on Broadway when the Straz held its event to announce its 2015-16 season, and he came down to sing a few songs from the show. ("Newsies" was at the Straz in earlier this month.)
Kaplan's not the only connection between "Newsies" and ""Kinky Boots." Both have books by Harvey Fierstein, who's perhaps best known for the stage version of "La Cage aux Folles."
It also has music by Cyndi Lauper, who won a Tony Award in her first effort as a Broadway composer.
"It's an interesting show because it was created by musical royalty, Harvey Fierstein and (director-choreographer) Jerry Mitchell and people like that," he said. "But Cyndi wanted to bring a pop-rock element to it."
"Kinky Boots" is still running on Broadway, after two years and about 1,100 performances.
The fact-based story has to do with a young man who inherits the family business, which is a struggling shoe manufacturing company in England. He has no interest in running a shoe company, but it's part of his family's legacy so he feel cornered. He's rather strait-laced, but
after he meets a night club entertainer named Lola, he gets the idea to manufacture shoes for drag queens, and he turns the business around.
"He's like Pippin," Kaplan said, "if Pippin made boots for drag queens."
The show -- which is based on a movie that became a cult hit in Great Britain -- is all about fun, he said, but if you care to look for them you'll find some positive messages about father-son relationships and about unlikely friendships.
And even though there are drag queens in the show, it's not going to be off-putting to people who find drag queens distasteful.
"We have certainly had our share of quote-unquote conservative audiences," Kaplan said. "And by the end they're standing and cheering."
Details: Dec. 1-6, Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $55-$130 plus service charge and up. Information: 813-229-7827, strazcenter.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.