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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Theater Review | “Exhilarating entertainment” – Standard of the Times


Photos in “Kinky Boots” by Ferndale Rep are Brad Harder, William English III and Kombouja. (FRT/Submitted)

It’s clear that Ferndale Rep’s current production, “Kinky Boots,” was the perfect musical choice for the company to stage in June, which is finally recognized as LGBTQ pride month across the Western world, following Manhattan’s iconic Stonewall uprising in 1969.

The purpose of this month is to “celebrate and commemorate the lives, achievements and history of members of the LGBTQ+ community (their activism and culture) over the years.”

The show’s story was originally based on real-life Englishman Steve Pateman, manager of the WJ Brooks men’s shoe factory in Northampton, East Midlands, England, which was in financial trouble Dilemma, the factory is about to close down.

Pictured are some of the cast members of FRT’s “Kinky Boots.” The show will air over the next few weekends. (FRT/Submitted)

However, after accidentally approaching a drag queen to see if the factory could make boots for other ‘crossdressers’, he decided to ‘give it a shot’ (initially opposed by workers) and successfully switched to producing long boots for men. “Weird boots with stiletto heels” that reached to the thigh.

While the setting remained the same when the story was first reimagined in the 2005 British film “Kinky Boots,” the role of Pateman was changed to Charlie Price, the son of the renamed shoe/boot factory Price and Son, as well as the main characters involved Still recognizable in the drag queen persona of Lola (ex-boxer Simon’s alter ego), as is the relationship between these two very different men and all others in their private lives, in Surround them on the stage of a factory or a drag club.

But when the story was adapted again for a Broadway musical in 2013, this time to a surprise original score by pop star Cyndi Lauper, gay icon Harvey Fierstein ) wrote an insightful book. The unlikely hit show won six Tony Awards.

So, that’s the musical/artistic pedigree of Ferndale Rep’s “Kinky Boots,” and fittingly directing Tigger Custodio (he, she, them) for the first time at FRT, who certainly inspired all the talented members of the show’s eclectic ensemble ensemble. The performers are honest and fearless in being themselves.

However, for the sake of visual clarity in this review (and my apologies to the cast and/or technical staff who won’t identify their chosen gender here, but in the show), here’s a brief synopsis of the plot and characters.

The year is 2005, when viewers meet the conservative Mr Price (played by Rigel Schmitt), owner of the defunct Price & Sons shoe factory in Northampton, and his Little Charlie (Korbin Campbell Korbin Campbell ornaments). Dad always tried his best to instill in his son that “shoes are the most beautiful things in the world”.

Pictured are actors performing in FRT’s “Kinky Boots” production. (FRT/Submitted)

We also meet young Simon/Future Lola (Xiomy Paz Dominguz) and his already disapproving ex-boxer father old Simon (Rocky) Charlie (William English III) and free-spirited Lola/Simon (Virgo Marroquin).

In the meantime, Charlie’s father, who is now in charge of keeping the door open, dies, as we’re introduced to extremely anxious people who work in factories and are all (at least at first) “afraid of change.” They are Pat (Elaine Islas), Harriet/factory worker (Mia Carter), Tracy (Valerie Rose), Don (double actor Rocky) and George (Brad Hard ).

There’s also Jessy McQuade, who is both a factory worker and Charlie’s fastidious fiancée Nicola, and Samahri Brice is Lauren, a factory worker who unfortunately ends up falling in love with Charlie, who is already engaged.

Topping the cast is outrageous backup drag “Angel” and a few other chorus members.

All the actors are also asked to sing and dance to an entertaining but demanding score.

Back to the plot: after Charlie finally decides to turn the factory into the sole maker of “weird boots,” he hires Lola to “design them.” However, Lola/Simon is “humiliated” by Don at the factory and agrees to “fight” him to “be accepted as a real man”. This happened at Lola’s club, with her Angels serving as referees and support.

Of course, Don doesn’t know that the man he’s hitting is trained in boxing, so he might be in for a big surprise. As it turns out, he did it in more than one way, including learning how to embrace “a different way of being human.”

Meanwhile, Charlie develops self-doubt about himself and his decision to make those freaky boots. Should he take his fiancée’s advice and sell the factory to a London dealer who plans to turn it into flats? (Goodbye if you don’t do it, fiancee.) Also, if you don’t do it, can the boots he is not satisfied with (because they are not designed according to Lola) be redone in time and displayed (and only female models wear them) in the shoe industry in Milan At a major fashion show?

Although all the factory workers quit first (then changed their minds and came back), Charlie, “broke,” still had to borrow money from them to get to Milan with his boots. And, since Lola insists that only her drag angels (or Charlie himself, in a pinch) wear them, does that lead to a “dazzling drag show” finale? Will love and “weird boots” conquer all in the end?

Performed to the show’s pre-recorded score under the direction of Elaine Yslas (arranged by Cleo DeOrio, FRT’s Production Artistic Director), here are some songs/numbers (as solo, duet and ensemble numbers) in two-show shows: Price and Son,” “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World,” “Lola’s Country,” “Charlie’s Monologue,” “First Steps,” “Sexy in Heels”; “History of the Wrong Man,” “Every Day Everyone Says Yes!”, “What Women Want”, “In This Corner”, “Soul of a Man”, “Hold Me to Your Heart”, “Pick You Up” and the uplifting corporate finale “Just Be”. (The whole ensemble resistance numbers are always the highlight.)

However, did all the featured singers consistently tackle the demanding (no key shifting) vocal challenge of opening night’s pre-recorded score? Frankly no. But, hopefully, by the time you read this (and they’ve got some extra performances to settle in), their voices will be a little more secure.

But Marroquin’s accurate vocals and impeccable “drag queen” moves are already amazing, and she’s completely in the role of Lola. And the poignant duet “Not My Father’s Son” (sung by Simon/Lola and English’s Charlie), a heartbreaking moment of truth for both of them. And, even more credit goes to Factory’s Lauren (Brice), who sang her comedic, lovesick ode to “Charlie.”

While all the cast’s English accents tend to wander around (few are able to be consistent and articulate the dialogue they deliver), once they’re in the show, the plot and musical numbers are so entertaining it doesn’t matter.

Under the stage management of Sydnee Stanton (assisted by Lillia Damron), a technically strong production was led by Technical Director Carl McGahan, with versatile set designs by Michael Charles Smith (set paintings by Carin Billings); Santiago Menjivar’s masterful lighting design; and all the complex fundamental attributes designed by Alyssa Plante.

Of course, one of the most stunning production elements are the costumes designed by Olivia Gambino (assisted by Roux Kratt), from the lively, skimpy, body-hugging drag queens, to the softer but equally character-oriented ones for everyone else. .

And, (as it should be), it’s those incredibly quirky boots themselves that always rule the visual roost,” the “balancing act” required to put them on, walk, or dance all the more memorable. (In dance captain Rigel With Schmitt at the helm, the end result is truly dizzying!)

But, aside from the fun, that’s what “Kinky Boots” is all about: the courage to discover your personal passions — and overcome other people’s prejudices — and (in the process) go beyond the stereotype of “who”” Others think you “should.” That’s why the show is such a truly uplifting entertainment that awaits you at Ferndale Rep.

“Kinky Boots” continues on Friday, June 16 and 23, Saturday, June 17 and 24 at 8pm, and Sunday, June 18 and 25 at 2pm. It closes on Friday, June 30th at 8pm and Saturday, July 1st, with the last showing on Sunday, July 2nd at 2pm.

This show is for a mature audience. General admission $18, student (ages 15 through college)/seniors $16. There is a building preservation fee of $2 per ticket purchased.Call the Box Office at 707-786-5483 for tickets, or go to www.ferndalerep.org. It can also be purchased at the theater’s box office 30 minutes before the opening. The venue is located at 447 Main St., Ferndale. (Masks are not required, but recommended.)


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