April 2017 - Cover Story: The Theatrics of Todrick Hall
From YouTube creation to Broadway sensation, Todrick Hall is bursting at the seams with talent. Currently touring with his new show, Straight Outta Oz, coming to New Mexico May 1 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Hall continues to make a name for himself with his quality productions, on stage and screen. America first witnessed Hall as he took the stage for American Idol’s ninth season in 2009, making it to the semifinals and finishing 16th in 2010. Even though Todrick didn’t make it all the way, viewers got a glimpse into the soulfulness of the artist, who, before he was on American Idol, worked on Broadway with Idol alumni Fantasia in The Color Purple.
Hall found growing success with the social media outlet, YouTube, where he uses the platform to expand on his talent and show the public what all he has to offer. Todrick’s first video, a rendition of Boyz II Men’s, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday,” was a simple production with just a background track, a camera, and his voice. The video was the start of a performance storm, bringing us some of the greatest flash mob performances using the music of Beyoncé (who publicly praised Hall for his creativity) and Ariana Grande, along with creative production videos, including “The Hungry Games,” “Spell Block Tango,” and, this writer’s personal favorite, “Beauty and the Beat.” These videos that started with views of over 100,000 have grown to boast viewership of over 2 million, turning Todrick into a YouTube sensation who is looking, now, to expand to other avenues. Hall produced and released a web series on his YouTube channel called Pop Star High, spawning several videos and his second studio album by the same title. In 2015, MTV came calling, offering Todrick a self-titled docuseries that followed him and gave fans a taste of life as Todrick Hall.
As Hall was tapped to be a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars, his stardom grew. His addition to the panel added more flair to the already fabulous show. Along with fulfilling his role as a judge, Hall was offered the opportunity to play the role of Broadway’s Kinky Boots’s character, Lola (originally played by musical legend Billy Porter). His performance, from November 2016 through March 2017, brought critical acclaim to the production and helped launch the musical into Tony® territory.
Hall took his career one step further by directing, choreographing, and producing his own stage production, an homage to The Wizard of Oz entitled Straight Outta Oz, which is also Todrick’s third studio album. This production is one of the biggest projects Hall has created, featuring original songs like “Papi,” featuring Nicole Scherzinger, “Lyin’ to Myself,” and “Expensive.” The show has been well-received, being called a triumph by many critics.
Todrick continues to extend his brand and show the world that he is much more than a contestant on a reality show. Todrick Hall is a phenomenon carving out a niche market for his talent and for those (and there are many) who appreciate it. His confidence and power on stage are something to witness, and if Hall has proven anything, it is that he is a force to be reckoned with.