TORONTO -- Cyndi Lauper is well familiar with the landscapes of Ontario, which she'll revisit later this month for the opening of "Kinky Boots" and the Pride parade in Toronto.
In her early 20s, the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" singer-songwriter from Queens, N.Y., flew to Toronto and then hitchhiked about 300 kilometres north to Algonquin Park, to study trees and find herself for a couple of weeks.
"Trying to find myself and then trying to find the way out," she said with a laugh in a recent telephone interview.
"I love Canada," continued Lauper, who made the trip with her dog Sparkle, a beagle-collie-Sheltie mix.
"I wanted to live in Canada but I didn't have a job and I didn't have any inkling of anything, of even what I would be or who I would be.
"I thought I would just be a painter and I guess I started just painting in other ways."
Lauper will still be hitching a ride of sorts when she boards a float to serve as one of the international grand marshals of Toronto's Pride parade on June 28.
That night she'll also attend the official opening of the Canadian premiere production of "Kinky Boots," which starts performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on June 16.
Lauper did the music and lyrics for the show, which is based on the 2005 film. The Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including best score for Lauper and best musical.
Acclaimed playwright Harvey Fierstein wrote the book and Jerry Mitchell did the direction and choreography.
Lauper was the first woman to win in the composing category by herself at the Tonys. On Sunday, that legacy was built upon as songwriters Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron became the first female writing team to nab a Tony for musical score (for "Fun Home").
"Hey, you know what's happening here? There's a lot of us, OK, and you can't just keep swattin' us down, because eventually we're just going to keep poppin' up all over the place," said Lauper of female composers.
Graham Scott Fleming stars in the Toronto production of "Kinky Boots" as Charlie Price, who turns around the fortunes of his late father's near-bankrupt shoe factory when cabaret queen Lola (Alan Mingo Jr.) helps him design a line of high-heeled boots.
Lauper said the relationship between her son and her husband inspired the show's tune "I'm Not My Father's Son."
"A lot of men feel like they can't live up to the expectations of their dads, and this song," she said before singing the lyrics: "When I was just a kid, everything I did was to be like him, under my skin.'
"That's kind of, I think, how little boys are with their dads, up until a certain age."
The multiple Grammy Award winner feels "happy to be part of this little happy pill" that is "Kinky Boots," which she calls a family story.
"Sometimes you go around the world looking for your heart's desire, but to find it in your own backyard on Broadway -- and have people take you in and be accepting of you, that -- that was something unbelievable."
So, does she want to write for the theatre again?
"I'm gonna," said Lauper. "Still in the workings. Can't talk about it or I'll put the jinx on it, you know."