Kyle Taylor Parker Takes on Seven Questions About Smokey Joe's Cafe, His Debut Album, & Combining Broadway with Soul
August 9th, 2018
by Josh Ferri
Kyle Taylor Parker slayed Broadway audiences in his fierce debut as Lola in Kinky Boots, then he made Charlie Bucket's dreams come true as Mrs. Green in B'way's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. He wowed fans with his Soul Sessions series, which has led to his upcoming debut album To Broadway With Soul. Now, Kyle Taylor Parker brings laugh after laugh after laugh (with a heaping side of vocals) in the new Smokey Joe's Cafe off-Broadway. His big songs include "There Goes My Baby", "Love Potion #9", "Along Came Jones" and "Treat Me Nice".
BroadwayBox caught up with KTP to discuss his fast-paced track in Smokey Joe's, his debut album, and more.
1. This production of Smokey Joe’s is so demanding on the guys, especially. You are pretty much shot out of a cannon once it begins. What is your pre-show like?
Coffee and a B12 vitamin get me through the 90-minute roller coaster ride. Backstage is pretty quiet before the show starts—a lot of steaming and stretching—until about 10 minutes to curtain, then we all start cutting up and cracking jokes with one another.
2. What moment in Smokey Joe’s do you most look forward to performing each night?
I love doing “There Goes My Baby”/ “Love Potion #9”. I put my own spin on it vocally and get to wiggle my funny bone a bit!
3. When selecting songs for your upcoming debut album, To Broadway With Soul, what song did you know immediately you had to include and what song almost didn’t even make the cut?
No doubt I had to record my James Brown take on “I Feel Pretty” (but with horns!)and my disco Donna take on “Think of Me”! My neo-soul take of “I’m Alive” nearly didn’t make it on the album for two reasons. One: I wanted to make sure the album was varied! Two: It’s hard remembering all my arrangements (kind of like having a lot of kids and struggling to keep their names straight).
4. What were the Broadway albums that were game-changers for young Kyle? Which were you were obsessed with in high school?
My high school obsessions were: Dreamgirls in Concert and Bernadette Peters (Sondheim etc).
5. What advice do you have for future actors will play Lola in Kinky Boots around the world and in their local theatres eventually?
Don’t underestimate the difference a great pair of shoes can make in the world! I’m still amazed at the lives I’ve been able to touch and the people I have met and connected with while playing Lola, and how I continue to learn more about myself from her.
6. What was your biggest pinch-me moment of Jesus Christ Superstar Live?
Meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber on the first day of rehearsal and getting notes on “What’s the Buzz” ...FROM ANDREW LLYOD WEBBER! Also, dancing the finale on live TV was one of the most epic experiences I’ve ever had!
7. In your opinion, what is the most soulful moment in all of Smokey Joe’s?
I think the most soulful moment in the show is “Stand By Me”. To me great soul music is all about conveying the emotion of the moment. In “Stand By Me”, I get to do a lot impromptu vocal fill that’s really just what I’m feeling that day that moment. You don’t always get to do that in a musical, and I’m really grateful for it. I get to literally sing my heart out eight shows a week on that tune.
Don't miss Kyle Taylor Parker in Smokey Joe's Cafe at off-Broadway's Stage 42, and pre-order his debut album now.