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Todrick Hall on joining Chicago: ‘Nothing in the script says Billy Flynn’s straight’

Todrick Hall on joining Chicago: ‘Nothing in the script says Billy Flynn’s straight’

Todrick Hall as Billy Flynn | Photos: Provided

Todrick Hall of course shot to fame as a semi-finalist on season 9 of American Idol in 2010.

And since then, the 33-year-old star’s long and varied career as a singer, actor and choreographer has gone from strength to strength.

Standout CV moments include choreographing Beyonce’s Blow video, guest judging and dance mentoring on the Drag Race franchise and performing on Broadway in Kinky Boots.

Todrick Hall as Billy Flynn | Photos: Provided

Last month, he joined the cast of Chicago at London’s Phoenix Theatre for a limited run, taking over the role of lawyer Billy Flynn. Here, he talks flirting with chorus boys, spending Christmas in London and who he’s excited to see on All Stars 4…

How’s the role going?

Great. Everyone’s sweet. I was so busy, I wasn’t able to come for rehearsals. I came in on a Saturday night, rested Sunday, then Monday had a two-hour rehearsal! But if you’ve done the show in one place, it’s easy to fit in with another cast. And they were very accommodating. I’m sad I’m only here until the 5 January. I wish I could stay longer!

You’re playing a famously straight character. How do you get into that mindset?

Well, there’s nothing actually in the script that ever says Billy Flynn is straight. But, that being said, I definitely realize in this interview that the [air] he gives off is a very masculine, him-taking-charge kind of energy. At the end of the day, I love becoming different characters. Whether a man or woman, a drag queen, an animal…

When I get on stage I don’t really think about whether I’m being feminine or masculine. I think ‘How do I think this character approach this situation?’ There are a lot of people who’ve been successful lawyers people don’t know are actually gay. Sometimes you might find me flirting with one of the chorus boys. It doesn’t stop me from being able to set Roxie and Velma free!

Where are you staying while you’re in the musical?

A three bedroom apartment for my assistants and I, so we can work on projects.

What are your favorite things about London?

The accents. I love seeing kids walking around Christmas shopping with their accents. It reminds me of Mary Poppins! Also, I’m a person who loves layered clothes. Unfortunately the LA weather doesn’t agree.

 

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The list of people you’ve worked with (Beyonce, Taylor Swift) is mind-blowing. Do you pinch yourself every day?

I do. There’s a moment every single day. Today there was a reminder [on my phone]: ‘Two years ago you and Ariana Grande were hanging out. She was making a video to your little brother.’ It’s insane I’ve become such close friends with Taylor, gotten to work with Beyonce, Meghan Trainor, Oprah Winfrey… It’s shocking to me it’s happened! It makes me believe anything is possible. I never thought I’d even see Beyonce in person, let alone her reach out and hire me to choreograph something.

What was she like?

She was a doll to work with. That was a game-changing experience.

I’m guessing she has a great work ethic and that’s why you work well with her…

100%. She definitely would be someone who’d be very great at being on Broadway. She takes everything so seriously; she’d never miss a show. She’s a very serious person. In this industry there are a lot of people who are not like that. They feel entitled. Once they get this certain level of fame, the idea of them fine-tuning their craft, growing as an artist is lost. When I saw how Beyonce walked into rehearsal and wanted to run the choreography, what leg to put her weight on, all those things… It was eye-opening.

You’re here for Christmas?

Yes sir. I don’t know what my Christmas plans are. I love it, it’s my favorite holiday. But I’ve also learned not to put pressure on a particular day. My idea of Christmas is being happy, even if I just spend the day watching Christmas movies.

I’ll celebrate with my family a-week-and-a-half later when I get back to America. But I’m excited to be here. I’m sure I’ll stop by somebody else’s Christmas festivities. Or, I have my assistants here, and we might have a small party together.

You’re welcome to join me and my friends…

Send me the information. I might just show up.

You could spend the day teaching us to dance! I’m not very good.

Well, OK. You’ve seen me on Drag Race, you know I can be a little hard on people. But it’s all with love!

What do you make of the Drag Race UK announcement?

I knew it was coming. I think it’s about time it happened. I’m sure there are amazing queens here.

Have you approached to be on it?

I have not. But I’d love to. I’m sure if RuPaul thinks that’s a good idea, he’ll ask me. But I’m just grateful and excited he’s getting the opportunity to bring his brand here and snatch up trophies in Britain!

Finally, who are you backing for All Stars?

I can’t say, as I work with the top four. I do the final four’s choreography. So I know who gets to the end. I’m excited to see what Manila brings. She’s had two opportunities [before] and she’s had the least good luck. She’s somebody I was rooting for when she was on the show the first time, and is a close friend of mine and a personal favourite. Monet X Change and I have been friends for a really long time. And I’m a huge fan of Valentina. I think she’s TV gold and such a star. And Latrice Royale, obviously!

For more information about the Chicago musical, visit the official website.