(UNION, NJ) -- Tony and Grammy Award winner Billy Porter will perform an evening of Broadway songs and stories when he takes the stage on Saturday, April 22 at Kean University. In his show, Broadway & Soul, at Kean Stage’s intimate Enlow Recital Hall, Porter will sing some of the most iconic songs ever performed on the Great White Way, including I Have Dreamed, Lady is a Tramp and Edelweiss.
“It will be my twist on traditional songs, honoring what came before us and creating a new way of hearing them,” he said.
The Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Mellon graduate grew up singing in church and knew he was destined for a career in the arts, ever since he performed in his first middle school musical.
“It’s what I was chosen to do,” he said. “I had a passion for it, enough to keep me buoyant and forward moving.”
He first appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon and subsequently had parts in Five Guys Named Moe, Grease and Smokey Joe’s Café. He is perhaps best known as the original Lola in Kinky Boots, a groundbreaking role that garnered him the 2013 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for lead actor in a musical.
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“Kinky Boots really put me in the public eye in a way that I hadn’t been for the first 25 years of my career,” he said. “It opened a lot of doors and allowed me to move on to the next level of my career.”
Most recently, he appeared on Broadway alongside Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Joshua Henry and Brandon Victor Dixon in Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. He is currently directing a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning show, Topdog/Underdog, at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company.
During his appearance at Kean Stage, Porter will perform songs from Kinky Boots as well as classics from his 2014 cd, Billy’s Back on Broadway and his forthcoming cd, Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers, which will be released on April 14.
“Richard Rodgers was the hit maker of his day,” he said. “Back then, theater music was the popular music that was played on the radio. When rock and roll, R&B and pop music entered the picture, they took that distinction away from the theater artists.”
In addition to his performance, Billy Porter will be teaching a master class with Kean University’s Theatre Conservatory students. It is his way of paying it forward to the next generation of stage performers.
Billy Porter: Broadway and Soul will be performed at Kean University’s Enlow Recital Hall, 215 North Avenue, Hillside, NJ at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. Tickets are $45-$65. Tickets are available at the Kean Stage Box Office in Wilkins Theatre on the main campus, by phone at 908-737 SHOW (7469) or online at www.keanstage.com.