MY BIGGEST FAN—Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter Ford with son, Billy Porter
On Monday nights Broadway is dark. That means there are no performances on the Great White Way in New York City. But the lights were shining bright Sept. 30 in Pittsburgh for the Tony Award-winning Pittsburgh native Billy Porter.
Pittsburgh CAPA presented “A Night of Celebration in Honor of Billy Porter.” Porter’s sister, Mary Martha Ford, with the help of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, City Theatre Company, Carnegie Mellon University, CAPA, Pittsburgh Technical Institute and family and friends, put together a grand welcome home for the star of the musical “Kinky Boots.”
COUSINS—Janet Slaughter, Billy Porter and Dr. Howard B. Slaughter Jr.
Porter has also appeared on Broadway in “Grease,” “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Five Guys Named Moe” and “Miss Saigon.” He’s also starred in “Dreamgirls,” “Ghetto Superstar (The Man That I Am)” and “Angels in America.” Screen credits include “The Broken Hearts Club,” “Twisted” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” as Little Richard. Maybe you caught him at the City Theatre in “Top Dog/Underdog” or years you may have seen him performing at Kennywood Park.
The VIP evening was special and featured a program that included Porter’s former teachers Ken Lutz and Mindy Rossi-Stabler, CAPA’s founding principal Dr. Henry Clark, a performance by CAPA students and a video tribute from his “Kinky Boots” cast mates. Each was so proud of Porter and said they admired him more for the person that he is, not necessarily because of his success.
CAPA TRIBUTE TO PORTER (Photos by Debbie Norrell)
His mother Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter Ford said she wanted him to learn about computers because she thought that was the way to go, but Dr. Clark felt Porter should follow his dream and come to CAPA. She went on to say it wasn’t always easy, but we made it and she is behind her son 110 percent. She reminded parents to “talk up to your children, don’t be negative.” Porter closed the evening by singing a song from his second album, yes he sings, too.
WE ARE FAMILY—Mary Martha Ford with brother, Billy Porter
On the next day, Oct. 1, it was Billy Porter day in the City of Pittsburgh, Primanti’s Brothers in the Strip District even named a sandwich after him—a double serving of fried kielbasa topped with coleslaw, tomatoes and fries a true celebration of Billy Porter.
FOUNDING PRINCIPAL OF CAPA—Dr. Harry Clark
KUDOS TO BILLY—Tomé Cousin and Thomas W. Douglas
WE’RE SO PROUD—Lenora Nemetz (actress and friend)
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