KINKY BOOTS at the Fugard Theatre has become the musical sensation of 2019 to which theatre-lovers return over and over again, not only because of the exceptional show quality and talent, but also because of the heart of its message that everyone is allowed to be who they want to be —a message the cast vibrantly celebrates with every performance. One of these exceptional performers is Emile Doubell who is one Lola’s fabulous Angels in this production. We talked with Doubell about his KINKY BOOTS journey, and it simply made us want to see the show again too.
Hailing from Port Elizabeth, Doubell’s theatre journey started at a very young age. Although growing up with the knowledge that one can make a career out of pursuing one’s dreams, his casting as one of the Angels in KINKY BOOTS took him totally by surprise. ‘I was sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight to Europe to go see Britney Spears live in concert when I received my call', he shares.
Having auditioned but a day ago, hearing back within a day was an incredible moment that saw two of Doubell’s ‘dreams comes true right at that very moment —utmost joy!’
It’s seems almost fated that he return to the Fugard Theatre now with KINKY BOOTS, as Doubell’s first professional show was also at the Fugard Theatre, with their sizzling success of a production, The Rocky Horror Show.
‘The impact that The Rocky Horror Show had on me was immense. I had one week to learn harmonies and choreography before jumping on stage, which alone was a mountain I had to climb. The skills I learnt then shaped me into the person you see before you today. I have to mention my cast at the time also had a huge impact on me, especially because this was my first professional show. I learnt so much from my fellow actors and I have been taught many valuable lessons that I will continue to take with me wherever I go.’
After Doubell made his professional debut at the Fugard Theatre he kept developing his skills and talent, which focus saw him taking on the challenge going to perform overseas. Doubell describes this as a ‘divine intervention’ moment in his career.
‘Before I left I was in a really bad space and it’s not something we usually like to speak about as actors. I was at a breaking point, scared of the unknown and at a crossroads with myself. Much to my surprise though, I flourished abroad. It changed me for the better. I am a lot more adaptable now, I have a new found confidence within myself, and I now know my product and my worth as a performer. I encourage anyone and everyone to travel and to leave your comfort zone, it really does do wonders.’
Doubell also very appropriately sees theatre as more than just a career, but rather a passion and a way of life, as performing is all he’s ever wanted to do’. To describe this approach, he turns to a beautiful SMASH series quote:
‘There’s nothing more magical than that moment, right when the lights go down and the crowd is waiting in silence; with anticipation for the show to begin. It's a moment full of hope, and full of possibilities. That’s the beauty of live theatre.’
Adapting that perspective to his own life, Doubell sees his lifestyle as exactly that, ‘the ANTICIPATION after an audition, HOPING you got the job; it’s the POSSIBILITY of living your dreams that make it all worth it at the end of the day’. And Doubell wouldn’t have it any other way.
With an almost phoenix like passion for theatre, it’s then also no surprise that Doubell’s biggest inspiration as an artist is Britney Spears.
‘From the day I was introduced to her music I was just totally consumed, and still am. She’s a phenomenal performer and definitely has influenced my style of performance. I have actually named and based my drag character around her. I’m the ‘pop princess’ of the Angels.
Doubell’s theatre journey —with all its trials and serendipitous adventures— truly inform his character as he now steps onto the KINKY BOOTS stage as Pop Princess Angel with the message of acceptance making this the production and time for him to shine is those fabulous stiletto boots.
‘I’ve been lucky enough that the previous productions I’ve done have allowed me to experiment with heels and make up, so approaching my role as one of the Angels has been pretty easy. Where I sometimes lack in masculinity for mainstream theatre I make up for in KINKY BOOTS as being effeminate does come more naturally to me. It’s a perfect fit.’
Doubell's KINKY BOOTS experience also speaks to hin in a manner that links with the KINKY BOOTS theme of a strong family structure. Doubell finds that sense of support in the ‘very close knit cast’. It's a sense of family that has filtered through in terms of cast dynamics and their creative process, and, in turn, reflects in the energy of every cast member’s performance.
That show energy too is linked to the relevance and appeal of the story that brings heart to the KINKY BOOTS musical. Doubell finds that the appeal of the show is rooted in the fact that ‘it’s a show about people, point blank’.
‘It’s a show about human beings finding themselves and accepting others. It has a tremendous way of taking this message of acceptance and applying it to characters that are so human, that anyone in an audience can see themselves in them and can go on that journey with the character.’
With that energy and heart, the nightly transformation from Doubell to one of Lola’s Angels, greatly excites him.
'As soon as that face is beat and the heels are strapped on, I have become someone else. It’s living the ultimate fantasy. And of course let us not forget THE BOOTS! I get to wear the most stunning pair of boots in the show and it’s definitely one of my highlights.’
It’s true, the boots and the outfits Doubell gets to show off on stage are truly fabulous. So, one has to wonder what the cast reaction has been to rehearsing and performing in those fantastically high heels. Doubell describes the overall reaction as ‘priceless’, with everyone being ‘in awe when they see us strutting our stuff’. But beauty has never been without a price, and those heels are quite a workout too, with Doubell pronouncing that ‘dancing in heels should be an official Olympic sport’.
‘They’re so fabulous and we have seven different pairs to dance in throughout the show, which really is no joke. My good friend Dominique Maher gave me an intensive heels workshop in order to prepare me accordingly. It definitely is an insane workout, but oh so worth it once you see it on stage.’
KINKY BOOTS outfit looks are further elevated by the music of Cyndi Lauper, which celebrates the idea of finding support in unexpected places —even a shoe factory on the brink of bankruptcy.
Given that there are so many wonderful KINKY BOOTS songs that can easily become an anthem to both audience and cast members alike, Doubell aptly states that ‘Cyndi Lauper has written an iconic score’. For him, personally, that anthem is the finale, ‘Raise You Up/Just Be’: 'It's a joyous celebration of a song that will have the audience dancing and clapping along with us. I can’t think of anything better.’
That song, as does the rest of the KINKY BOOTS narrative translated through song and dance, 'reveals a story about love and acceptance, owning your truth and celebrating the life that you are living'. That why Doubell invites everyone to 'Come and watch!’, before it's sensational Fugard Theatre run ends 2 February 2020.
Tickets can be booked only at www.thefugard.com. But wait, before you click on that link, we have some extra information that could see you party the night away with Doubell and the other Angels as you welcome in the new decade:
See in 2020 with the hottest New Year's Eve ticket in town!
On 31 December 2019, The Fugard Theatre is set to host a New Year’s Eve party that will be beyond anything ever hosted at The Fugard.
Tickets for this exciting event will range from R580 to R700 and include: a ticket to the smash hit musical Kinky Boots‘ New Year’s Eve performance as well as exclusive access to "Beyond Kinky!", a party after the show with champagne, chill areas, multiple bars, best dressed prizes and live DJs.
Tickets are limited so get your tickets, grab your kinky boots, feather boas, faux fur and false lashes and come strut into 2020 and get "Beyond Kinky!" with the cast and crew of Kinky Boots this New Year’s eve.
Tickets can be purchased at www.thefugard.com.