Cast's heartfelt emotion and energy lifts show up to phenomenal heights.
The Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots has fabulously kicked its way into Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Based on the British film of the same name, this sensational stage musical is the winning combination of a fantastic score by Cyndi Lauper, a clever book by Harvey Fierstein, superb cast performances, and brilliant direction and choreography by Broadway legend Jerry Mitchell.
The show tells the story of a Charlie (Curt Hansen), who inherits a shoe factory owned by his father in the quiet town of Northampton. With business appearing to go under, Charlie has to find a way to save the factory. A chance encounter with a London drag queen named Lola results in an idea that could save the factory – making boots for drag queens. Because, as Charlie notes, drag queens need female footwear that can withstand the weight of men. Makes sense, right?
What ensues is both a touching tale of staying true to oneself, as well as a phenomenal display of epic diva performances that trumps even the best Rupaul’s Drag Race performance. As Lola, J. Harrison Ghee is the epitome of a triple threat performer. He is divalicious as Lola, belting out Lauper’s sassy songs and heating up the dance floor with his drag queen chorus, the Angels. But he also shows his tremendous sensitivity as Lola’s male counterpart, Simon. Ghee has the voice of a Mariah, the diva cred of a Beyoncé, and tremendous heart and soul that is truly unique to him.
As Charlie, Curt Hansen also turns in a dynamite performance. His character arch is excellent. Hansen’s Charlie goes from a naïve, awkward young man, into one sexy, confident beast of a man. And his singing and dance moves are sizzling hot. Ellen Marlow is adorable as Hansen’s love interest Lauren. Marlow, who is actually the understudy for the role, impressively stepped up to plate on opening night. She is certainly a bundle of fun, oozing with charismatic personality and her solo, “The history of wrong guys”, is a highlight of the show. It screams Cyndi Lauper all over it – it seems that Lauper may have written herself into the show, in the character of Lauren. And Marlow makes us fall in love with her.
Also worth noting, are the fierce performances of Lola’s Angels. These “ladies” know how to werk! These are trained male Broadway dancers with sensational kicks, acrobatics, and just as much sassiness as Fifth Harmony and the late Pussycat Dolls. Jerry Mitchell has outdone himself with his fabulous choreography, proving that he can stay up-to-date and relevant with his work. Mitchell has been involved with Broadway and West End shows over the past 33 years, and still in this day and age, he is still slaying it.
The entire cast is brilliant – full of amazing talent and energy. What makes their performance so special is how heartfelt it is. The finale, “Raise You Up/Just Be”, is extraordinarily moving – you can tell by the emotion of the company, just how much the show’s message means to them. A message that speaks to the power of how strong we are together when we embrace diversity and individualism. And how the greatest thing that we can possibility be is ourselves – because no one can do that better.
If you haven’t seen Kinky Boots yet, what are you waiting for? Strut your way to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre before Sunday, February 12. Visit Broadway Across Canada’s website for ticket information.