Gateway's Kinky Boots: heart, growth...and boots
The start of “Kinky Boots,” a show defined by its exuberance and style, is pretty mundane. The first few minutes you basically watch a young man get handed a multigenerational family business, when he really doesn’t want it. You also see a young boy get scolded for trying on heels. But, it’s when these two stories merge that the magic of “Kinky Boots” happens.
Now playing at the Patchogue Theatre and hosted by the Gateway, “Kinky Boots” is being played on Long Island for the first time — ever. They’re using the Broadway set, costumes and more. The show gets a fresh take through director Larry Raben and choreographer Peggy Hickey.
To make a long story short (and simple), a young man, Charlie Price (played by Lukas Poost), is reeling with the responsibility of dealing with his failing family business. One night, he bumps into a drag queen, Lola (played by Terry Lavell), and his creative wheels start turning. Through working together, they both realize how similar they really are.
Lavell and Poost are the stars of this show, and they did shine from beginning to end. Poost has an electric voice that is solid and could fill a Broadway theatre. His complexion of dealing with his character’s different struggles — death in the family, having to move home, taking over a business, jeopardizing his engagement — was excellent.
Lavell is a performer in his blood, something evident from his first appearance. He has a soulful voice and commands a room with his attitude while portraying Lola. When he really expands his character's depth is when he takes off the drag costume and becomes Simon. He is able to accurately portray a person who is conflicted over their self-view and wants to just feel comfortable expressing himself in the best way he knows how. His disposition was compelling as he takes you through song and speech of his life.
Another standout character was Lauren (played by Claire Adams), who was the comedic relief of the show. Her delivery was spot on, and she was able to articulate the funny moments as a way to develop her character throughout the show (to say nothing about her incredible voice, which comes alive in her Pat Benatar-esq number, “The History of Wrong Guys”).
The show also gives a glimpse into the continuing struggle of acceptance and tolerance. As one could imagine, not everyone in the small factory town of Northampton, England is receptive to the idea of flexible gender identity, drag queens and sexuality. But through a unique struggle, growth is found in all characters, which reminds the audience that no one is finished growing, no matter who, where or how old you are.
The whole cast deserves credit, as the ensemble was a strong point, which delivered Broadway-quality music to the theatre. The angels, as they are called, which play backup to Lola in her performances, were incredible dancers and took the stage.
“Kinky Boots” is playing at the Patchogue Theatre now until Sept. 14. Tickets are online at www.thegateway.orgor by calling the box office at 631-286-1133.
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