Tuesday, 02 June 2015 13:22

Absolutely Fabulous: Kinky Boots is ‘Changing Lives’

Written by  Allison Parker
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Kinky Boots Tour Kinky Boots Tour Matthew Murphy

Kinky Boots seems to have it all. It’s got Broadway dazzle with a modern edge, joyous drag queens and outrageous footwear — it also champions a message of hope and acceptance.

The production, a six-time Tony Award-winner, centers on protagonist Charlie Price as he inherits a floundering shoe factory after his father’s death. The cause seems hopeless until Charlie runs into drag queen Lola and her glamorous backup troupe, the Angels. The queens introduce Charlie to the niche market of drag boots and create a fabulous new line. 

Through its costumes, character and storyline, Kinky Boots aims to connect to a current societal tension and to offer encouragement to those seeking to belong.

“What’s resonating is the fact that we’re coming into a time in this country where people finally get to be just who they want to be,” said Hernando Umana, an “Angel” in the show. “That message is so clear in the show and it’s so important for people to hear. It’s really changing people’s minds and empowering those who don’t need their minds changed but they just need the encouragement to be okay.

 

Kinky Boots
Broadway Grand Rapids at DeVos Performance Hall
June 2–7 / $30–75
broadwaygrandrapids.com, (616) 235-6285

“We’ve had (people) come to the stage door and come out of the closet to us,” he added. “They’ve said that this show is helping them do that. So yeah, it’s just changing lives every day. It’s really incredible.”

Much of the fun and glamour of the musical comes from the drag queens themselves, who function primarily as gleeful symbols of inclusion and individual freedom.

“(The Angels are) the fun, welcoming queens and we just kind of spread that throughout the whole show — it’s nothing but fun for us onstage,” Umana said. “We’re six completely different characters — and we are characters. We get to just be that with zero judgment, just love.”

To give each queen her own unique sparkle, costume designer Gregg Barnes created an extravagant Tony-nominated wardrobe featuring intricate beading and opulent glitz.

However, the boots are the most stunning attire in the musical.

“The shoes are amazing. Our finale boots are just the best thing you’ve ever seen. My heel is just completely rhinestoned out. They really live up to the hype of what the whole show is. You know, you wait the whole show to see the kinky boots and they surpass any expectation. They’re stunning,” Umana said.

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