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Lauper continues second act for rockers on Broadway

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Cyndi Lauper last night became another in a line of Baby Boomer-era pop and rock stars who have brokered a successful second career on Broadway.

Lauper, who will turn 60 on June 22, is known for such pop hits as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Time After Time” in the 1980s. But last night she received a Tony Award for her Broadway musical “Kinky Boots”.

Lauper wrote the music and lyrics to the musical about a factory owner who turns his struggling shoe making business into a maker of fesish footwear for crossdressers. “Kinky Boots” won six Tony Awards last night including Best Musical, Best Leading Man and Best Original Score.

She is a newcomer to Broadway and last night she thanked Broadway “for welcoming me.” She added: "Everybody else in my category, I feel honored to be part of this community. You inspire me."

She joins, among others, Phil Collins and Elton John who have transitioned from rock to musicals.

Collins, drummer and vocalist for Genesis then a solo performer through the 1970s and ‘80s, did a lot of work for Disney, contributing songs - and his voice - to such animated films as “Jungle Book” and “Tarzan.”

He helped develop “Tarzan” into a 2005 Broadway musical.

Elton John, the glam pop star of the 1970s who had a string of No. 1 hits, is best known on Broadway for “Aida”. It premiered on Broadway March 23, 2000 and ran for 1,852 performances until September 5, 2004, making it the 34th longest running Broadway musical.

It was four Tony Awards in 2000, including Best Musical Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actress.

Another notable contributor to musical theatre, though to a lesser extent, is Steve Van Zandt, a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. His second act has included acting gigs, most notably on HBO’s “The Sopranos”.

But he recently reunited the band The Rascals to do 15 performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway with a show that combined live performance, video reenactments, archival concert and news footage, op-art backdrops and psychedelic lighting, with a 50-foot-by-25-foot LED screen.

Rock and pop have had an influence on Broadway with a more current crop of rockers.

Trey Anastasio, late of Phish, was a musical contributor to “Hands on a Hard Body”, a current musical adapted from a documentary film about contestants attempting to win a new truck by being the last one to keep a hand on the vehicle.

The musical received three nominations, including Best Original Score, but did not win.

And Green Day’s “American Idiot” was adapted for the stage and had a string of 422 performances through April 2011. Green Day guitarist and frontman Billy Joe Armstrong occasionally appeared in the role as St. Jimmy.

The musical won two Tony Awards in 2010 for scenic design and lighting design. It also received a Best Musical nomination. It did win a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Musical Show Album.

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