Todrick Hall usually spends Thanksgiving with his family, but last Thursday (Nov. 24) he was invited to be a part of Taylor Swift's world and spent the holiday with her family and friends in Rhode Island.
The Kinky Boots star's friendship with Swift dates back to 2015, after he created a YouTube mash-up of her hits. The two met face-to-face backstage in Kansas City, where she recorded a voicemail greeting he still uses on his phone.
When Hall landed the lead role of Lola in the Broadway production, she promised she would come see him perform -- and stayed true to her word when she came to see the show on Wednesday night (Nov. 23).
"I knew that she would because she has never said she was going to do something and not followed through," Hall tells Billboard.
"All of a sudden on Tuesday night, she wrote me, 'Me and my brother and a few of my friends want to come see your show tomorrow. Are you ok with that?' And I said, 'absolutely. The whole company would be ok with that.' And she came to the show."
Disney fun with @taylorswift on the piano. Throwback to two nights ago. Resting now to be back onstage tomorrow. Good night. #littlemermaid #alanmenken #ursula #scuttle #fork #shellbra #novoice
A video posted by Todrick Hall AKA Toddyrockstar (@todrick) on Nov 26, 2016 at 5:27pm PST
Swift -- who loved the message behind the show -- even texted the American Idol alum with a supportive message at intermission, telling him she cried seven times, asking "Why are you so talented?"
While most celebrities try to duck out of shows unnoticed before the curtain call, Swift brushed off security, insisting she stay in the theater to cheer Hall on during his bow. She then went backstage to offer congratulations, but again eschewed celeb norms and stayed for two hours.
"Normally when someone comes back that's a high-profile celebrity, they take a group picture with everyone, but she took a picture with every single cast and crew member who wanted a picture -- hair, makeup, the people from the orchestra -- she took pictures with everyone," he says. "She was so sweet to every single person and the entire cast couldn't stop writing me and texting me about how sweet of a human being she is. Like that just doesn't happen. She was talking to people, and you could just tell she was very engaged in the show, she remembered every moment and each person beyond that as well, and she loved the show. She was like, 'I'm literally going to come back five times and see the show.'"
He added, "She's so genuine, that's the thing. I could tell people all day about how sweet she is, and the second they meet her, they're just like, 'She is incredible'. Like the entire cast can't stop talking about it, and it's been a week since she's been there. And they've all been coming in and saying, 'Thank you so much. It was not only really cool to meet her, but also so inspiring because she's just a sweet person that when you're around her, it just makes you want to be a nicer person. It makes you want to go donate money or something, like go to a children's hospital or something every time I hang out with her because she's really, really sweet."
Part of your world part 2!
A video posted by Todrick Hall AKA Toddyrockstar (@todrick) on Nov 26, 2016 at 5:48pm PST
The next day, Hall joined the singer for Thanksgiving dinner ("her mom is the most amazing cook, ever!"), participating in a beach mannequin challenge and a round of Disney songs around the piano --"A Whole New World" from Aladdin, "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid and "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas -- which she played "by ear with no rehearsal."
"It was just really, really special. A really fun night - we were all laughing and joking around," he says. "It was honestly the best Thanksgiving I've ever had. Taylor just surrounds herself with all these people who are so awesome and so aware of what's going on and so gracious and so welcoming, that within 10 to 15 minutes of us all being together, we were like all really, really good friends."
Swift has plenty of time to catch Hall again in Kinky Boots. He is starring in the production until March, and after that, he is pursuing a way to bring his visual album, Straight Outta Oz, to Broadway.
"Taylor was one of the people who really supported me, and when I was really nervous I'd call her because I know she's had to face huge audiences and try new things in front of the world all the time. And she gave me so much sound advice on what to do, and as soon as she came backstage, she was like, 'What were you ever nervous about?' It was just funny to watch her say that, because she would say, 'It was like this role was written for you'," he explains. "I feel like I've become that character and I can't wait to actually share my real story with a Broadway audience. Who knows when that will happen? So as soon as I finish this show, I'm working on translating my visual album/concert into a full length Broadway musical, and I can't wait to bring it to New York and see how it's received. I'm really proud of it and that's what I'm working on."