Skip to main content Skip to footer
Five Burning Questions

Five Burning Questions with Kinky Boots Olivier Nominee Killian Donnelly

March 8th, 2017 by

JoshuaFerri Share
Five Burning Questions with Kinky Boots Olivier Nominee K...

Olivier Award-nominated West End star Killian Donnelly makes his Broadway debut reprising the role of shoe factory owner Charlie Price in the Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots. Killian's West End credits include originating Charlie Price in Kinky Boots, Deco in The Commitments, and Huey in Memphis (Olivier nomination). He also starred as Raoul in Phantom and Enjolras in Les Miserables. He appeared in the Les Miserables film as Combeferre and the 25th Anniversary Concert as Courfeyrac. BroadwayBox caught up with Killian to talk about his debut, adapting to NYC, and giving up on Instagram.

Killian Donnelly GIF- Kinky Boots GIF

1. What's the biggest difference between Kinky US and Kinky UK?
Probably the audiences’ reactions really. In London, they can be attentive but reserved when expressing themselves throughout the night. Here throughout the show, there is this beautiful Broadway community that is so expressive and open to showing their appreciation to someone on stage or the show or the talent, and that’s been incredible to experience. The end result is always the exact same, and the message still comes across. It’s incredible, even across the ocean, the message of Kinky Boots is universal.

2. What are you loving about New York?
I’ve been here before for about four nights, so I’ve done the touristy thing. Now, I’ve settled into a New York lifestyle. I found my local coffee shop and pizza place. I walk around Hell’s Kitchen like, ‘That’s my restaurant!’ I understand the subway now. I look out my apartment and I see buildings and Central Park, and it’s this incredible painting really. I stroll down the road and I pass a few Broadway theatres then I go into my Broadway theatre. I avoid Times Square like the plague because it’s mental. I absolutely love that I settled in.

3. What was your biggest "show must go on" moment from West End’s Memphis?
At the very end, there’s this gorgeous scene where Huey says goodbye to Felicia. He’s in his own little radio disc jockey room, and then he gets asked by Felicia to go perform at her concert. There’s this real cool technical moment where the radio booth descends into the floor; she goes out on stage and sings; and I descend to the floor, knock twice, and then a stage manager opens the door. Then I have to do the quickest run stage left, costume change, and come back on. You literally only have the exact amount of time to do that. So, one night I descended, knocked, and no one was there to open the door. I knocked again and no one was there. Then I banged and I banged and I kicked and I kicked, and in the end a dresser just opened the door and I ran. I didn’t even get trousers off. I put on a jacket and went on stage. So then everyone was in these gold, slick jackets and I was in this gray, horrible thing going, ‘Oh, this looks odd…’ What I found out later was one of the stage managers got off early and he forgot about his final cue to let me out of the room.

4. How's the audience reaction at Kinky Boots changed since November? Are you all mindful of performing this particular piece during this time of American upheaval? Is it especially strange for you?
I’m here at an incredibly exciting time, being an Irishman. I know exciting is a strange word to use, but the amount of people at the stage door every show—not just every night, every show—that welcome me to America and to New York. The people I’ve seen in America are incredible. New York is an amazing city. Whatever is happening in the country or in the world, there is a positivity when people come to this show. I’ve had fathers come up to me saying, ‘You need to put this show on for free in a stadium to get this message out. It’s what people need to hear.’ When we were rehearsing for the show in London, American creators would come over and say, 'This message is so important.’ But now, more than ever, it’s so important to accept someone for who they are and be who you want to be. Shouting that message out every show is a brilliant, brilliant feeling. Don’s line ‘You can change the world when you change your mind’ gets the biggest roar every night. The night of the inauguration, that tore the roof off the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. It was such an incredible moment to be there. I thought, ‘Killian, you grew up in a small village in Ireland, how are you here at this exact moment?’

5. Your last Instagram post was 210 weeks ago? What happened? Are you ever going to go back to the Gram?
No. I used to do Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook, and I thought, ‘God, if I put up a picture, I have to do it on everything.’ I thought what I’d do is just stay on Twitter because it seems like a good base of what you’re doing. I’m not a really good cook, and it seems Instagram is a lot of walking your dog by the beach and putting up your dinner. With Twitter, I can just put up a stupid comment or picture. But now I had dinner with [Kinky director/choreographer] Jerry Mitchell the other night, and he was like, ‘You HAVE to get back on Instagram!’ So I’ll never say never.

Don't miss Killian Donnelly's Broadway debut as Charlie Price in 'Kinky Boots' at Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre.