Kinky Boots is a homecoming for young Wilmington actor

Delaware's Charlie Price is seen here (center

Delaware's Charlie Price is seen here (center

When the Tony-winning musical “Kinky Boots” opens tonight at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Collin Jeffery.

The 9-year-old Wilmington native expects a veritable cheering section to be on hand each time he takes the stage at the venerable theater in his hometown. “It’s going to be amazing,” he says.

Collin plays the younger incarnation of the show’s main character Charlie Price who is destined to inherit a shoe factory from his father just as it’s about to hit the financial skids.

And he loves the role. “He’s really active in it,” he says. “He likes to play soccer and he doesn’t want to make shoes. It’s a really good role.”

Based on a 2005 British film, the musical by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein captured six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

But it’s not really about the shoes. It’s the story of two people who think they have nothing in common until they discover that they’re not so different after all. And that makes Collin really proud to be a member of the cast.

“I love the message: accept someone for who they really are,” he says.

Collin, a fourth grader at Cooke Elementary, is no stranger to the Wilmington stage. He’s appeared in nine productions at the Delaware Children’s Theatre and at the Playhouse as Tom of Warwick when the national tour of “Camelot” passed through Wilmington. He caught the acting bug when his mom took him to see a production of “Alice in Wonderland” at the Delaware Children’s Theatre. During intermission, he asked her how he could get on stage. She took him to auditions, and in 2013, he made his debut as a munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Roles in shows like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Into the Woods” followed, but it was when he played Randy in a production of “A Christmas Story, the Musical” last year this time at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia that got his parents thinking that maybe it was time for him to start auditioning in New York City.

His success doesn’t surprise his mother, Stephanie Jeffery, who says that her son has always had a flair for the dramatic. “Ever since he was one or two he’s been into dressing up and putting on shows,” she says. “He would take his stuffed animals and put on plays. Right now, he likes to draw cartoon characters and he’ll do scripts with them”

Collin likes acting because it allows him to explore a range of emotions. “If you’re ‘Lucy,’ she’s mad or if you’re ‘Snoopy,’ he’s excited all the time, or ‘Shrek,’ he’s grumpy,” he explains. “I like to act in different emotions.”

Stephanie, who teaches at Delaware Technical Community College, has been accompanying her son on tour while her husband, a painting contractor, “holds down the fort” at their Newport home. They spent five weeks in Japan this fall and will leave for Canada on December 26th, Collin’s tenth birthday.

“I think he’ll look back and realize what an amazing opportunity this was, that he got to travel to all these places and meet so many different people,” she says. 

Collin sums up the experience in just one word: “Awesome!”—–If you go:What: “Kinky Boots,” presented by Broadway in WilmingtonWhen: December 13 – 18; 7:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesday, Saturday and SundayWhere: The Playhouse on Rodney Square, 1007 North Market Street, Wilmington. Street, garage and valet parking are available.Tickets: $40 – $85, discounts available for seniors and groups of 10 or more. To purchase visit www.thePlayhouseDE.org or call 302-888-0200.

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