Toby Francis knew he was part of a something incredible the moment the cast of Kinky Boots completed the very first read through. If that wasn’t enough, working with them were a team from Broadway.

These people are the best in the world!” said Toby. “They’ve won Oliviers, they’ve won Grammys, they’ve won Tonys, not just for this show – which has won them all – but in their careers. And here I am! I’m among them!”

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Toby Francis

Toby Francis himself is an award-winning theatre performer, writer and producer, but not a known “name” to the general public. The role of Charlie in the Australian premiere of Kinky Boots is the biggest role of his career.

It’s massive!” he exclaimed.

Yet, despite the enormity of a leading role in an Australian premiere of a musical that has won every Best Musical award it’s been eligible for, Toby Francis feels surprisingly comfortable.

It’s more to do with the people around me, but I feel quite comfortable. I hope that doesn’t come across as kind of arrogant or pretentious in any way, but it really is indicative of the people around me and how they’ve helped set me up and get me prepared.”

That support started before Toby had even been cast into the role. Francis was in the US where he had just finished a tour with the Ten Tenors. He was taken to Chicago to meet with director Jerry Mitchell who was busy workshopping a new production.

Jerry gave up some of his time to audition me. He went above and beyond,” explained Toby.

Clearly it was worthwhile – Toby Francis landed the highly-coveted part.

Being in a new show, of course, means getting to know fellow cast members – and there is one person in particular that Toby Francis knew he would be spending a lot of time with: UK performer Callum Francis, who plays Lola.

Toby and Callum had been in touch via Twitter prior to Callum’s arrival in Australia. Callum landed in Sydney, Toby’s hometown.

I called him and he said we should go and get a coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but I said, ‘I’m going to buy some books from a bookstore, do you want to just tag along?’ and he did. It was instantaneous! It sounds like such a line but it’s so bizarre to meet someone you’ve only spoken to on Twitter and have such a connection,” said Toby.

I said to my partner, Lauren, I felt like I’ve met an incredibly good friend of mine that I didn’t even know existed.”

Director Jerry Mitchell knows the importance of the Francis bromance. This natural chemistry places out on stage as well as off stage. https://www.theatrepeople.com.au/kinky-boots-francis-bromance/

Callum Francis already knows the Kinky Boots musical very well, having understudied and performed the role of Lola in the West End production. Toby Francis, like most Australians, has never seen the show.

I had a cheeky look on YouTube and looked at the archival recording and taken in as much as I can.”

When asked what he has been doing to prepare for the role, Toby replied, “Pilates!”

Toby explained that wearing those six inch heels in the show is hard work on the core and back muscles, so he’s been training in the gym and doing Pilates to be show-fit.

And look good in the heels!” Toby added cheekily.

His partner, set-designer Lauren Peters, loves seeing him in the heels and is “super-proud”.

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Toby Francis as Charlie and Callum Francis as Lola

It’s been quite a ride already for Toby Francis. His first introduction to Kinky Boots was performing Cyndi Lauper’s hit song ‘True Colours’ to open the AFL Pride Match at a packed Etihad Stadium. He’s rehearsed with some of Broadway’s best and he’s in leading role in an Australian premiere musical. 

If this was a rollercoaster, I can’t believe how thrilling the climb up to start the rollercoaster is already. So it’s like we’re almost at the top and I’m thinking I would pay just for this bit! If it was a theme park I would pay just to go up and look at the view. I can’t wait for what’s coming on the other side!”

That “other side” will come on Saturday night at the official opening night of Kinky Boots. Audiences have been raving since the very first preview performance, giving standing ovations and 5-star reviews on social media.

The Kinky Boots rollercoaster fun has only just begun!

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Kinky Boots is now playing in previews at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District, ahead of the official opening night on Saturday 22nd October.

http://kinkybootsthemusical.com.au/home

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