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“Kinky Boots” Anything But a Drag

One of Broadway’s Best Arrives in Calgary

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From GayCalgary® Magazine, February 2017, page 17)
J. Harrison Ghee in the National Tour of Kinky Boots
J. Harrison Ghee in the National Tour of Kinky Boots
Image by: Matthew Murphy
Kinky Boots National Touring Company
Kinky Boots National Touring Company
Image by: Matthew Murphy
J. Harrison Ghee in the National Tour of Kinky Boots
J. Harrison Ghee in the National Tour of Kinky Boots
Image by: Matthew Murphy
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Since 2013, Kinky Boots has received rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. With 6 Tony Awards, a book by the legendary Harvey Fierstein and a soundtrack by Cyndi Lauper, it’s no surprise that Kinky Boots has become a hit. It’s arrival in Calgary was met with high anticipation and excitement, and it more than met expectations.

Kinky Boots is based on the 2005 film, which in turn is based on a true story. Charlie Price (played by Ciaran McCarthy for Tuesday’s opening night performance) is trying to turn his families struggling shoe factory around. Searching for ideas, he discovers Lola (J. Harrison Ghee) – a drag queen and realizes that one of the issues the drag community has is wearing women’s shoes that are not designed for men. Thus begins his frantic attempt to create boots in time for Milan Fashion Week.

Ghee’s Lola is stunning. Both in personality and glamour, Lola captures the stage every time she struts upon it. Even out of drag as Simon, Ghee’s presence is captivating. It is a star level performance that is breathtaking, and will see Ghee depart the tour to join the New York cast after this tour stop. Although there are many reasons to see the show, J. Harrison Ghee’s performance will linger in your memory as it really is outstanding.

Ciaran McCarthy may be the understudy for Charlie but of course with the level of production on these tours, is anything but secondary. Charlie’s English working man balances out Lola’s dramatic flair, and McCarthy does a tremendous job carrying the show both vocally and character wise.

Long time Calgary theatre fans will recognize Don, played by Aaron Walpole. Walpole has had multiple runs in shows at Stage West here and we’ve always known his talent was huge. He’s parlayed those early shows into a successful career that has included Broadway runs in Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Miserables. Although he has called Ontario home, he’s definitely considered a Calgary guy and it is exciting to see him get the opportunities he deserves. He manages to play the abrasive Don in a way that shows heart behind the character’s ignorance and another highlight of the show.

It is also exciting to see Jim J. Bullock on stage. An extensive resume that includes Alf, The Bold & The Beautiful, and Lord Valium in Spaceballs the voice of Queer Duck plays George, one of Charlie’s advisors and a friend of his fathers. The entire cast from Lauren (Rose Hemingway) to the incredible drag angels truly delivers.

Lauper’s first attempt at writing a score lands with catchy and memorable songs like Land of Lola and Sex Is In The Heel. While these spectacular showstoppers are a sight to be seen, the powerful Not My Father’s Son and Hold Me In Your Heart really show Lauper’s skill. Although iconic, Lauper is often underappreciated for her music and it is fantastic to see these skills on display.

As soon as the lights dimmed prior to the curtain call, the audience was leaping to its feet to give Kinky Boots a standing ovation. It may seem strange still that Calgary would so appreciate a show that features multiple drag queens. Kinky Boots is about much more than drag. It is a story of heart and strength and being yourself that will resonate with anyone. A few tickets are still available, grab them now.


Kinky Boots Montage

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Contributor Jason Clevett |


Locale Calgary |


Topic Broadway Across Canada | Kinky Boots | Theatre |


(GC)

Kinky Boots National Touring Company
Image by: Matthew Murphy

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