I first became a fan of Mr. Porter on Twitter, where he has 27k followers and serves up motivational and uplifting tweets such as these:
I had, admittedly, never seen Mr. Porter perform. But I knew that he had won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots. And that Kinky Boots had won for Best Musical and Best Score. (Cool side note: Kinky Boots was Cyndi Lauper's debut as a Broadway songwriter, making her the first woman to win alone in that category. Yay, Cyndi!)
So when I saw that Billy would be performing at The Rose Theater, I knew I wanted to be there.
Mr. Porter kicked off the American Songbook Series in The Appel Room. This space is stunning; it overlooks Columbus Circle. Down in front are small tables where folks can enjoy refreshments during the show. We sat towards the back, in the amphiteater-style seating.
Accompanied by a 13-piece orchestra, Billy launched the show with "But the World Goes Round,""Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Don't Rain on My Parade."
There was also the Sammy Davis Jr. hit "I've Gotta Be Me," which served as a signifier of one of the evening's main themes of self-acceptance. This theme continued in a suite from the show Kinky Boots, which included "I'm Not My Father's Son."
The evening ended with tremendous energy and power: accompanied by the Broadway Inspirational Voices, Mr. Porter performed his own version of "Sunday," a song from Sunday in the Park with George.
Many of the songs from the evening's show can be found on Mr. Porter's new CD Billy's Back on Broadway.
Also worth noting: Mr. Porter will join the national tour of Kinky Boots Aug. 4-9 when the musical visits his hometown of Pittsburg, PA.
* Photo Credit: Tony Cenicola, NY Times