Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

“Kinky Boots” Is Flashy Fun at DPAC

Steven Booth (left) and J. Harrison Ghee forge an unlikely alliance as Charie Price, the owner of a failing men's shoe-factory and the drag-queen Lola, whose suggestion that Price & Son manufacture "kinky boots" revitalizes the moribund business (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Steven Booth (left) and J. Harrison Ghee forge an unlikely alliance as Charie Price, the owner of a failing men’s shoe-factory and the drag-queen Lola, whose suggestion that Price & Son manufacture “kinky boots” revitalizes the moribund business (photo by Matthew Murphy)

The talk of Broadway in 2013 has arrived and planted its heels in Durham. The Tony Award®-winning Kinky Boots national tour is serving up some flashy, feel-good fun at the Durham Performing Arts Center through March 15th. With a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winner Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots tells the story of a faltering English shoe factory that rises up from its own ashes and reinvents itself as a designer and manufacturer of “kinky boots” for drag queens.

Charlie Price (Steven Booth) is left the shoe store, Price & Sons, after his father suddenly dies. Realizing that the shop is under water, he begins to take steps to shut the factory down. Enter Lola (Fayetteville, NC native J. Harrison Ghee), a larger-than-life drag queen. Charlie and Lola form an unlikely friendship. Charlie eventually brings Lola on as a designer of ladies footwear for men — kinky boots. The underlying message: love each other, love yourself, and be you.

It’s a sweet story, even though I found the book to be a little rough around the edges. Some moments meant to pack an emotional punch seemed more contrived than I think they were meant to.

Here’s the basic thing about the show: touring is hard. Life on the road is exhausting, and moving city to city takes its toll. While the ensemble was strong and cohesive, the show felt a bit more like a machine than a living, breathing creation.

Tony-Award winning theater artist Lin-Manuel Miranda has been posting a lot on Facebook lately while his new show, Hamilton, wows New York audiences. Recently, he posted, “And now … we start from scratch and tell it again.” For me, that element is missing from the current tour.

Lindsay Nicole Chambers sparkles as Lauren, a shoe-factory worker who catches the eye of her boss Charlie (played by Steven Booth) (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Lindsay Nicole Chambers sparkles as Lauren, a shoe-factory worker who catches the eye of her boss Charlie (played by Steven Booth) (photo by Matthew Murphy)

The leads, while talented, were going through the motions. They weren’t emotionally grounded. I think they could have helped the script out some if they had really played the emotional truth of the moment, as opposed to just saying the lines to get to the next thing.

Though there were standouts. A constant favorite of mine, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, plays factory-worker-turned-Charlie’s-romantic-interest Lauren. I’ve seen Ms. Chambers in several things, both on tour and on Broadway; and she’s a force to be admired.

The Angels — the drag performers — are a tight group of gals who really worked every minute they had on stage. The highlight of Tuesday night performance for me was the powerhouse vocals of Hernando Umana leading “In This Corner.”

Ultimately, you should buy in to the hype. Kinky Boots a good show with a stage full of talent. The misgivings can be overlooked (and may even go unnoticed). The message is relevant and necessary: “You change the world when you change your mind…. Just be, triumphantly.” (Click here to view the musical’s Just Be Who You Want to Be campaign.)

Lola (left center) and Charlie celebrate production of the first kinky boot (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Lola (left center) and Charlie celebrate production of the first kinky boot (photo by Matthew Murphy)

SECOND OPINION: March 12th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/03/drag-queens-fashion-and-fun-dpacs-kinky-boots-has-it-al/; March 11th Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x367830063/REVIEW-Kinky-Boots-features-fabulous-shoes-heartfelt-message and March 5th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x923741691/-KINKY-BOOTS-J-Harrison-Ghee-steps-into-spotlight (Note: You must subscribe to read these articles); March 6th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh interview with J. Harrison Ghee, conducted by Jeffrey Karasarides: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Interviews-J-Harrison-Ghee-of-KINKY-BOOTS-National-Tour-20150306; and March 6th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article12845300.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the March 10th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/03/fayettevilles-j-harrison-ghee-will-don-lolas-red-knee-high-kinky-boots-on-march-10-15-at-dpac/.)

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents KINKY BOOTS at 7:30 p.m. March 12, 8 p.m. March 13, 2 and 8 p.m. March 14, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 15 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $52.19-$173.39 (including fees). Click here for DPAC Special Offers.

BOX OFFICE:

DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), tickets@dpacnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1726370/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.

SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/kinky-boots and https://www.facebook.com/events/265199500318170/.

VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzZ0ztL9Tl0 and https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeJ-O3FgSgzZKfVBqRE7k9ZCBnaTso5MK.

THE TOUR: http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/tour.php.

TOUR CAST: http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/tourcast.php.

CREATIVE TEAM: http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/creative.php.

OFFICIAL SHOW GUIDE: http://digital.turn-page.com/i/131604.

DPAC‘S 2014-15 SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2014-15.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan-your-visit/directions.

PARKING: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan-your-visit/parking.

NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Friday, March 13th, performance.

OTHER LINKS:

Kinky Boots (2005 film): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434124/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinky_Boots_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).

Kinky Boots (2013 Broadway and 2015 West End musical): http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/index.php (official website), http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=493286 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinky_Boots_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).

Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics): http://cyndilauper.com/ (official website), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=391830 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper (Wikipedia).

Harvey Fierstein (book): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=6157 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/harvey.fierstein (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/harveyfierstein (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Fierstein (Wikipedia).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Jesse R. Gephart is a Raleigh, NC-based actor, director, and reviewer. A Gainesville, FL native, he earned a degree in Theatre Performance in 2005 from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He recently directed and starred in Mortall Coile Theatre Company’s Feb. 20-22 and Feb. 27-March 1 presentation of British playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell’s first play, The Pride (2008), which won the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. This spring, he will direct Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on May 1-3, 7-10, and 14-17 in RLT‘s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre. To read more of Jesse Gephart’s reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/jesse-r-gephart/.)

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