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

NCT’s Kinky Boots Is a Must-See Musical, with Lots of High-Heeled Kicks and Belly-Laughs

Graham Scott Fleming (center) stars as Charlie in Kinky Boots (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

With high-heeled kicks, belly-laugh puns, and a score worthy of a Tony® for Best Musical in 2013, the North Carolina Theatre‘s home-grown production of Kinky Boots creates a spectacle unlike any other at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. The cast is full of actors and singers who can compete with those playing the same roles on Broadway, though the show was rehearsed and put together right here in Raleigh, with direction and choreography Nathan Peck. It’s a show that is both uplifting and thoughtful, and well worth the price of a ticket.

When Kinky Boots originally hit the screens of Great Britain’s movie theaters in 2005 as a film loosely based on true events in the life of Steve Pateman (a man struggling to save his family’s footwear business), it resonated with Daryl Roth, a Tony Award-winning producer who saw it at the Sundance Film Festival. Convinced that she could translate the story to musical theater, Roth secured the rights for the production and began working with Hal Luftig, a Tony-winning producer, to bring it to the stage.

They hired Harvey Fierstein to write the book of the musical and Grammy®-winning singer/songwriter Cyndi Lauper to write the music. The msuical made its Broadway debut in 2013. After a slow start and a little tweaking, the show surprised everyone by gaining steam, then winning a season-high six Tony Awards, including the previously mentioned Best Musical Tony.

Kinky Boots stars Joseph Anthony Byrd (second from left) as Lola (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

The original Broadway cast included Billy Porter, who won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal as Lola, and has since won a Grammy and an Emmy®; and it is his voice that welcomed theatergoers to Wednesday evening’s performance in Raleigh. Porter’s enthusiasm for the show instantly charges up the audience, and we are sure that we weren’t the only ones to compare his masterful portrayal of Lola to Joseph Anthony Byrd’s Lola.

Byrd has performed in Kinky Boots on Broadway, and starred in other touring productions and regional shows. He has also appeared on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

Byrd’s moments on stage, particularly during his solos (“I’m Not My Father’s Son” and “Hold Me in Your Heart”) are show-stopping, and his voice reaches the rafters like none other’s in this production. He’s every bit as good as Billy Porter’s.

Graham Scott Fleming and Sydni Beaudoin star as Charlie and Lauren (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

There are also many others in this NCT production who deserve recognition. Charlie Price, the owner of the failing shoe factory, is played by Graham Scott Fleming, a Canadian who has played the role of Charlie before and is making his North Carolina Theatre debut. His portrayal of the unassuming Charlie is realistic and strong, though his voice is sometimes drowned out by the North Carolina Theatre Orchestra, led by conductor Edward G. Robinson. When Fleming performs Charlie’s solo, “The Soul of a Man,” he truly comes into his own and puts every ounce of passion into the delivery.

Lauren (Sydni Beaudoin), the heartsick, hysterically funny employee who is secretly in love with Charlie, steals the show every time that she is on stage. With both Broadway and TV roles to her credit, Beaudoin proves her chops by adding just the right nuance and comedic timing to her role, making the audience roar with laughter with each swivel of her hips.

Another performer with great comedic chops is Joe Coots, who plays Don, an overweight and underwhelmed cog-in-the-wheel of Charlie Price’s shoe factory. His character is the one who has the most distinct character arc in the show, coming from full-blown blue-collar worker with an attitude and transforming to a fervent supporter of both Charlie and the drag queens for whom they make those kinky boots.

Kinky Boots stars Joseph Anthony Byrd (center) as Lola (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

Rounding out the main cast is Grace Stockdale, who plays Charlie’s commerce-driven girlfriend, Nicola. Stockdale’s voice is strong and multilayered, and it’s almost unfair that she doesn’t get more stage time since she’s a fabulous singer. And John Scherer, who plays Charlie’s foreman George, has a background in Broadway, as well as film and TV. He embodies the loyal employee role and appears comfortable in it.

The story of Charlie’s struggles to keep his family’s shoe factory in business by producing footwear fit for Lola and her drag-queen Angels (David Merino, Robert Pendilla, Ian Gallagher Fitzgerald, Ethan E. Baker, Tommy Martinez, and Jose Rondon Jr.) is a heartwarming tale that produces moments of sweetness and love, recognizable connections between fathers and sons, and a dazzling finale that lifts you up and sends you dancing out of the theater. This one’s a must see!

The North Carolina Theatre will present Kinky Boots, starring Joseph Anthony Byrd as Lola and Graham Scott Fleming as Charlie, on Feb. 11-16 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (photo by Curtis Brown Photography)

SECOND OPINION: Feb. 13th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2020/02/north-carolina-theatres-kinky-boots-is-surprisingly-universal/; Feb. 12th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-North-Carolina-Theatres-KINKY-BOOTS-20200212 and Jan. 27th BWW Interview with actor Nathan Peck, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Interview-Nathan-Peck-of-North-Carolina-Theatres-KINKY-BOOTS-20200127; Feb. 12th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Spencer P. Phillips: https://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=9725; Feb. 9th Cary, NC RDU on Stage podcast interview with actor Joseph Anthony Byrd, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://rduonstage.com/podcast/ep-56-joseph-anthony-byrd-talks-kinky-boots/; Feb. 5th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/kinky-boots-nc-theatre-februrary-2020/; Feb. 4th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Melissa Howsam: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article239917248.html; and Jan. 23rd Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts Review interview with actor Graham Scott Fleming, conducted by Susie Potter: http://www.triangleartsreview.com/home/5-questions-with-graham-scott-fleming-who-portrays-charlie-price-in-north-carolina-theatres-upcoming-production-of-kinky-boots.

The North Carolina Theatre presents KINKY BOOTS at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $18.79-$87.15, plus taxes and fees, except $20 college-student tickets.

BOX OFFICE:

NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, boxoffice@nctheatre.com, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369155/2598123.

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, groups@nctheatre.com,, or http://nctheatre.com/groups.

SHOW: https://nctheatre.com/shows/kinky-boots, https://www.facebook.com/events/701087030356189/, and https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/events/kinky-boots-north-carolina-theatre.

VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre/videos/2609636112405234/.

2019-20 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201920-season.

NCT NEWS RELEASES: https://nctheatre.com/blog/history-kinky-boots and https://nctheatre.com/blog/meet-cast-kinky-boots.

PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.

NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.

VENUE: https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/venues.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/getting-duke-energy-center.

NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15th, performance.

OTHER LINKS:

Kinky Boots (2005 film): https://www.miramax.com/movie/kinky-boots/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434124/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/629213/Kinky-Boots/ (Turner Classic Movies), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinky_Boots_(film) (Wikipedia).

Kinky Boots (2013 Broadway and 2015 West End musical): http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/index.php (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/kinky-boots-493286 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinky_Boots_(musical) (Wikipedia).

Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics): http://cyndilauper.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/cyndi-lauper-391830 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0490980/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper (Wikipedia).

Harvey Fierstein (book): https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Harvey-Fierstein/1760630 (Simon & Schuster, Inc. author page), http://iobdb.com/CreditableEntity/10899 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/harvey-fierstein-6157 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001213/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Fierstein (Wikipedia).

REVIEWER:

Dawn Reno Langley is the award-winning author of The Mourning Parade, as well as other novels, children’s books, nonfiction books, essays, short stories, poems, and articles. She is the creator of The Writer’s Hand Journals and runs workshops on using journals in every walk of life. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds the MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT, and the PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from Union Institute and University. She lives in Durham with her dog, Izzy. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews