Saturday June 24th 2017

“Kinky Boots” The Musical

Get ready, Broadway! Another new musical is making waves in Chi-town and lucky New York gets another major musical, “Kinky Boots the Musical” based on the “cult” film of the same name written by Tim Firth and Geoff Deane, has been taken to a new level, one that will start a whole new class of followers, tanks to the creative minds of Harvey Fierstein (book) and Cyndi Lauper ( music and lyrics). This smashing, energetic re-telling of the story, sharply directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, is sure to set New York audiences “on their heels”!

For those unfamiliar with the story, it takes place in England. Price and Son Shoe manufacturers make the finest of shoes, but because the demand has gone down for quality and now people want low cost imports, is near bankruptcy. Young Charlie Price, unaware of the situation, upon his father’s death is called back to Northern England to find a way of saving the company or disposing of it. Not wanting any part of the business at all, he goes off to London to find a buyer for all the stock they have in their inventory. A chance meeting with a Drag Queen named Lola changes everything for the company, for Charlie and for all those factory workers whose lives have depended on Price and Son to survive.

Both Charlie ( a solid performance by Stark Sands) and Lola ( a sensational turn by Billy Porter who on several occasions has the audience ready to give him a standing ovation, stopping the action to the thunderous applause- well deserved, by the way). These characters ( as young boys they are played by  the adorable Josh Caggiano/Charlie and Marquise Neal/Young Lola )who show that a small bit can help create the character later played by Porter and Sands) While this story may appear to be about the struggle with dealing with Cross Dressers, Transvestites and other “gender situations, as well as finding a way to save a business and even more a town, there is a great deal more to this bright, comic musical- both boys were kept from being who and what they wanted to be by their fathers. Charlie, being a 4th generation Price, was destined to be in the shoe business; Lola, whose father was a boxer, trained him to be the next champion. Neither father ever asked their sons what they wanted. The workers in the town and the people who knew Charlie all their lives were unsure of what he was trying to do and if it would save their company, but as they learned more from “Lola” and her”posse”, they realized that the power of acceptance can change everything and turn negatives into positives and we all know that positive energy creates even more positive! 

The music that Lauper created for this special story is a mixture of Rock, Ballads, love songs and “big Broadway Musical” numbers , some that will have you laughing( “The Land Of Lola”) , others that will bring a tear to your eye ( “I’m  Not My Father’s Son) and many that will have you clapping your hands and tapping your feet( The Finale-“Raise You Up/Just Be” got the entire audience involved and on their feet). In fact, the first act finale “Everybody Say Yeah” was as strong as an act can go out on and the audience in the lobby,in line for refreshment or bathroom or in the aisles was abuzz for the entire 20 minutes. This is a WOW! of a musical and I only wish it would stay here longer, but I am sure the New Yorkers are waiting to see the work by this creative group of artists. David Rockwell’s set is simply divine as it transforms quickly from place to place with the factory always being there. Greg Barnes has designed some masterful costumes that will “blow your mind” and Josh Marquette ( hair) and Randy Houston Mercer ( make-up) show what truly “makes a man, a woman”. Kenneth Posner ( lights) and John Shivers ( sound) along with Stephen Oremus’ musical supervision and Brian Usifer as conductor are the icing on the cake so to speak.

Yes, this production has a lot of “frosting” on a sweet play filled with great new music that adds to the power of the story rather than just a song tossed in here or there to make it work. These songs do work! What makes a show truly effective, in particular one with the energy of this script and music, is a cast that feels the pulse of the story and make sit all seem real. This is a well rounded cast that does just what is needed.Annaleigh Ashford is delightful  as Lauren, the factory worker who has always adored Charlie,the lovely Celina Carvajal as Nicola ( Charlie’s fiancee, who turns out not to have his best interest at heart), Daniel Stewart Sherman as Don, the factory worker who learns how to change, Marcus Neville as the plant foreman and of course, the Angels, Lola’s “girls”:Paul Canaan, Kevin Smith Kirkwood,Kyle Taylor Parker, Kyle Post, Charlie Sutton and Joey Taranto- singers, dancers, acrobats- and all beautiful! Their final number using conveyor belts truly shows their “stuff”. In fact, the entire cast of  32 is as solid as it gets- from start to finish, you cannot help but LOVE this new musical “Kinky Boots the Musical” now onstage at The Bank Of America Theatre, located at 18 West Monroe ( between Dearborn and State Street).                                                                                                                         

The PRE-BROADWAY run is only here until November 4th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays 7:30 p.m.,Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.(on the 24th at 7 p.m) with matinees on 10/24 and 10/31 at 2 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ( except on the evenings of the 24th and November 4th)

Tickets range from  $33-$100. YES, you read that right-$33 for a Broadway musical that will be up for many awards. Time is limited , so I would get over to any one of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, The BroadwayInChicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place, by phone at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com

for more info, and to see other reviews, go to my homepage- link to theatreinchicago, go to review round-up and click “Kinky Boots”. Since this show is headed to the big apple, it will leave as scheduled, but fear not, it will come back again. I for one, would love to see it again with this sensational cast. I think I will!

see a new scene http://bit.ly/kbsnkpk

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