Former La Jollan is stepping out in ‘Kinky Boots’ — smash Broadway musical coming to San Diego

“Kinky Boots,” first a hit British movie and then a hit Broadway musical, is making a return visit to San Diego as part of its long-running national tour.

Based on the 2005 film, which was inspired by a true story, “Kinky Boots” is about a man who inherits a failing shoe factory and ends up forming an unlikely partnership with a flamboyant drag queen to produce a wildly successful line of high-heeled boots — “fetish footwear” — for drag artists.

With a book by two-time Tony-winning writer Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by 1980s pop icon Cyndi Lauper, the show opened on Broadway in 2013, was hailed for its “heart and soul,” and took home six Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Score, adding a 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Musical after its London opening.

Broadway San Diego originally brought “Kinky Boots” here in 2014, at the start of the national tour. This time, one of the cast members is a young woman who got her start in La Jolla.

Meryn Beckett, now 27, said she was born in New York, and moved to La Jolla when she was 8 years old. Soon after being enrolled in Torrey Pines Elementary, she went to see a performance at San Diego Junior Theatre in Balboa Park with her father, who was also an actor.

“It was ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ and I remember turning to my father and saying: ‘I have to do this!’ ’’ she said in a recent interview. “They were having auditions for ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and I was heartbroken when I didn’t get a part, but then I tried out for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and I made it, and ended up doing tons of shows with them over the next 11 years. And they’ll be doing that same show, my first, at the exact same time I’m here with ‘Kinky Boots’ on my first national tour! So I really feel that this is full circle for me.”

Besides Junior Theatre, and several musicals with the J*Company at La Jolla’s Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Beckett credits her teachers with encouraging her to continue her studies at Boston Conservatory Theater. Now based in New York, she is currently Assistant Dance Captain and Swing in the touring “Kinky Boots.”

“The Swing is a show’s super-hero,” she explained. “If anyone gets sick, I go on. I’ve played all my roles multiple times. It’s a lot of work, but it’s taught me so much, and nothing is ever routine. Every time I’m onstage, it’s different, and I get to experience the show from a different point of view.”

In Spokane, the tour’s last stop before San Diego, Timothy Ware took over the lead role of drag queen Lola, while the previous Lola, J. Harrison Ghee, moved on to Broadway. The original Lola standby on Broadway, Ware will be in Lola’s boots at San Diego Civic Theater.

“We were the third city to have ‘Kinky Boots’ when it began its tour,” said Christann Heideman, associate marketing director of Broadway/San Diego. “Our audiences were definitely fans of the production, so we’re excited to be bringing it back.”

IF YOU GO: Meryn Beckett is scheduled to be onstage 8 p.m. Friday, March 10. “Kinky Boots,” plays matinee and evening performances, March 9-12, at San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B St., downtown San Diego. Tickets: $22-$117. (619) 570-1100. broadwaysd.com

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