How Daryl Roth of 'Kinky Boots' Became The Biggest Force on Broadway

Jewish Producer Grew Up Feeling Like an Outsider

Good as Gold: Daryl Roth captured yet another Tony award for “Kinky Boots.”
Getty Images
Good as Gold: Daryl Roth captured yet another Tony award for “Kinky Boots.”

By Simi Horwitz

Published October 04, 2013, issue of October 11, 2013.

(page 2 of 3)

Identity politics onstage and off have particular resonance for Roth. “Being true to one’s self and being acknowledged for who you are is so important,” she asserted. “I understand the outsider’s mentality. People look at me now and don’t believe that. And I am incredibly lucky. But that wasn’t always the case.”

Roth dealt with the experience of feeling unacknowledged even before she started out as a producer. She grew up in Wayne, N.J. where, she said, she was “the only Jew” and “very much felt like the outsider.”

As a child, her family attended a Conservative synagogue, and today she’s affiliated with the Reform movement. “Being Jewish molds who I am and it’s not religion,” she said. “It’s something about being Jewish — whatever that means — that’s part of my DNA.”

She also credits her father with shaping her life-long concerns and onstage aesthetic. “He was a moral and decent man who believed in the dignity of every human being,” Roth remembered. “He said you should respect and regard all people as equals. He believed in human rights and equality in the world.”

Roth has produced a fair number of plays that focus on Jewish themes and characters, including “My Name is Asher Lev,” “Irena’s Vow,” “Old Wicked Songs” and “The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife,” and she is vigilant about not promoting stereotypes or using bigoted language onstage.

Still, she cast Vanessa Redgrave to play the Jewish doyenne in “Driving Miss Daisy,” keenly aware that many Jews view Redgrave as an anti-Semite and might wonder why she was cast in the role — though Redgrave has played other Jews — when there are so many other fine actresses who could take on the part and not offend anyone.

“It did cross my mind that this might be a subtext when I approached investors,” Roth conceded. “But only one investor would not invest because of the casting. I felt Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most phenomenal actresses of the day and if she was willing to play the part and bring her talent to that role, I personally had to support that choice.”



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.