September 1, 2022
How to know? Really, how does one know the difference a single person makes to a production? That question will only be answered should I make it back to see Kinky Boots with Callum Francis instead of his animated understudy, Nick Drake.
A choreographer, dance captain and dancer of note, Nick Drake grabbed center stage in the "Kinky Boots" revival at Stage 42. Surrounded by an exuberant cast, Lola (Drake) negotiated some truly tricky choreography on Empire State Building high heels over conveyor belts, staircases and multi-level platforms.
Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell effectively pruned Harvey Fierstein's book boosting the drama, spiking Cyndi Lauper's catchy score and amping up the dancing.
Shoemaker and store owner, the senior Mr. Price (Ryan Halsaver) who loves shoes and his workforce, loses market share to competitors producing much cheaper shoes.
Uninterested in extending the family business, Price's son Charlie (Christian Douglas) joins his fiance in London where he meets a drag queen named Lola. In need of dangerous, eye-popping shoes for her act, Charlie has an epiphany --- meet this unmet niche and save his now-deceased father's failing legacy.
This jump starts the fabulous and poignant plot that joins unexpected foes into allies and transforms a business, and its workers into an unlikely family.
A uniformly strong cast, there are a few standouts like Danielle Hope (Lauren) who is sweet on Charlie and can belt a song while balancing a hilarious kookiness over genuine kindness. An original cast member, Marcus Neville (George) holds everyone's heart in his grandfatherly warmth and the burly Sean Steele forms a Greek chorus of suspicion and acceptance.
If you've seen it once, you'll want to see Kinky Boots again.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis