Behind the Scenes with The Hanover Theatre’s education director Meghan Montaner

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Behind the Scenes with Motown the Musical on WCRN

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Behind the Scenes with Diane Pieciak from The Hanover Theatre

Be the first to know which award-winning Broadway tour is the 7th show in the 2017-2018 Broadway Series.

Enjoy a free spotlight performance by a touring cast member from the newly announced show and find out how you can win special prizes throughout the year.

Subscribe before April 21 and join us for the exclusive subscriber and press reception with special guests, including Sergio Trujillo, the award-winning choreographer from Jersey Boys. His work has been seen on stages from Broadway to Las Vegas.  In addition to Jersey Boys, Sergio’s Broadway credits include A Bronx Tale The Musical, On Your Feet!, The Addams Family and Memphis.
RSVP today to attend the FREE 2017-2018 Broadway Preview & Press Party on April 24.

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Behind the Scenes with Gary Mullen of One Night of Queen

One Night of Queen performed by Gary Mullen and The Works

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

04/04 8:00 PM

In 2000, Gary Mullen won ITV’s “Stars In Their Eyes” Live Grand Final, with the largest number of votes ever received in the shows history.  The record of 864,838 votes was more than twice that of the runner-up.  Gary began touring on his own and in 2002 formed a band ‘The Works’, to pay tribute to rock legends Queen.  Since May 2002, ‘Gary Mullen and the Works’ have performed throughout the UK, USA, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand to sell-out audiences.  The Outfit have also twice rocked the prestigious BBC Proms in the Park, in front of a very enthusiastic crowd of 40,000. One Night of Queen is a spectacular live concert, recreating the look, sound, pomp and showmanship of arguably the greatest rock band of all time. This show will ROCK you!

One Night of queen have been touring for 13 years.

Tickets are $38 and $46. Discounts are available for members and groups of 10+. Please contact the box office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) for more information.

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Review of Cinderella by Ben Krueger


Cinderella’s Beauty is Only Skin Deep by Ben Krueger, Student Critic


The story of Cinderella has been told countless times. It dates back to ancient Chinese folklore, circa 860 AD. In the old fables, the Godmother is portrayed by a bunch of fish bones. However, the current re-telling has not aged well, as can be seen in Roger and Hammerstein’s version of the famous story. Plot holes plague the show like potholes plague a road. The show itself is quite funny, and the actors did very well, but the removal of humor from the equation shows a bland show that frankly does little to impress.


The play makes up for the dry story with plenty of humor and wit. Much of this is political humor, which may be there to keep adults and adolescents from falling asleep in their chairs. One of my favorite moments is when they are discussing the prince as a politician; they seem bewildered at how he has “a heart, a mind, and a soul”. Some may feel that these jabs remove the audience from the play; rather it makes the characters more relatable and human, letting the audience transcend the darkness of modern day and make fun of it all. This allows the audience to relax and enjoy the play more in turn.


Past the enjoyable satire of Roger and Hammerstein’s play, the plot can be somewhat inconsistent. The plot is full of holes, like characters who hate each other seconds before breaking out in song. This can be seen in the song right after intermission, where the sisters, stepmother, and Cinderella start singing and the stepmom shows respect to Cinderella by singing along, despite declaring earlier that she has no love for her. And, at the end of the play, not only does the mother accept Cinderella’s forgiveness (despite being appalled at the very notion of kindness earlier), but the power hungry advisor of the prince seems perfectly fine with being virtually overthrown.


One of the best aspects of this rendition of the play is the effects, especially the lighting. From streaking through the canopy of a forest, to showing the passage of time, the play is a masterpiece of how to use effects. Music sets the tone perfectly, and the voices of the actors are some of the best I have heard. The one flaw with the music is that it is utterly forgettable, and some songs pad the runtime and break up the rhythm of the show.


The acting in this play is stellar, on par with that of Broadway. The actors and actresses go beyond their relatively confined roles and give each of them character beyond the script. Tatyana Lubov, who plays Cinderella, did an exceptional job for one of her first professional plays. Joanna Johnson perfectly captures the hilarity of a desperate Charlotte, who is constantly griping and making trivial remarks about the play. The singing is some of the best that I have heard, and, even if the music itself is not all that great, the cast more than makes up for the songs with their amazing voices. The choreography is a spectacle unto itself, with acrobatic knights fighting off a giant forest creature to lavish wedding-goers dancing gracefully across the stage.


The characters speak to one of the play’s major problems: a lack of depth. If one were to draw Cinderella or the stepmother on a sheet, it would reveal a less paper-thin character. The characters are one dimensional and are defined by one personality trait each. Cinderella is kind: this is shoved down the audience’s throat at the end of the show when other character’s praise her for her kindness and sympathy, as if the director wanted to make sure the audience came away absolutely knowing that Cinderella was kind. Contrary to this, there is one scene with a rather memorable exchange, where the prince’s advisor is trying to stop the prince from finding Cinderella, and says “Remember who you are talking to!” The prince turns and says “Remember who you are talking to.” This moment is one of my favorites in any play I have yet seen. With those four words, the prince seems to fill the stage with an unmistakably awes-inspiring presence. This is the prince the audience expected, the one who slays dragons and gargoyles without a sweat, giving the audience goosebumps with how impressive he is. However, the play fails to capitalize on this, and this stirring character of a strong and powerful prince disappears and is once again replaced by the meek and dull version of the prince for the rest of the play. This shows the main fault of the play, which is like a shallow stream: nice to look at, but there is very little real depth.


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Review of Cinderella by Olivia Tobin

CIN_Logo_500x500_RGB-2Entertaining, but Not Enchanting by Olivia Tobin, Student Critic
As I walked into the theatre for the Saturday matinee of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, my
standards were set incredibly high, and so were the standards of the myriad of little girls who were
anxiously awaiting seeing their idol on the stage in their Cinderella costumes and tiaras. Cinderella is a
timeless story, and though Rodgers and Hammerstein’s interpretation of it is vastly different from the
Disney version, there are certain expectations that are set for a story that has been loved and will be loved
for generations; the magical transformation of Cinderella, the glass slipper, and the happily-ever-after
ending are all essential aspects of the Cinderella story, and all of those magical moments occurred in the
production. However, this show did not meet fully those expectations, and I imagine that those hopeful
little girls left the theatre with the same disappointment and feeling of dissatisfaction that I did.
From the beginning, this production left an awkward taste in my mouth. Though the overture was
sweeping and breathtaking, and conductor Charlie Reuter should be commended for that, the opening
scene was simply unnecessary. Tatyana Lubov (Ella) left something to be desired with her acting skills
throughout the show, but she did her best to work with her awkward collection of rocks that is supposed
to set the tone for the show as the opener. Although director Gina Rattan may have had some deeper
meaning that was supposed to be portrayed during this scene, any purpose in the scene’s inclusion seemed
to be lost.
The two most impactful actors on the stage were definitely Topher (Hayden Stanes) and Marie, also
known as the Fairy Godmother, (Leslie Jackson); both actors delivered absolutely incredible vocals, and it
was clear from their energy and passion on the stage that they had truly embodied their roles and had fully
adopted the personalities of Prince Topher and Marie. Stanes’ acting skills were a cut above the entire
cast’s; Topher’s heated exchange with Sebastian (Ryan M. Hunt) earned some of the most fervent
applause that the audience gave throughout the entire show. His passion and range of emotion were
simply amazing, and he more than made up for the rather bland Ella. Though Ella’s voice was very clear
and pretty, and her harmonies with both Topher and Marie were flawless, Ella seemed less passionate and
dynamic than the other actors onstage; though Ella is written as a very one-note character, there is more
that can be done to make her as empowering and genuine as she is supposed to be, and Lubov fell slightly
flat on delivering the strong idol little girls came to see. Additionally, Madame (Sarah Primmer) and the
two stepsisters, Charlotte (Joanna Johnson) and Gabrielle (Mimi Robinson) were not quite the foul foils to
Cinderella’s kindness that they should have been; they were significantly less cruel to Cinderella than one
expects of them and it was absolutely a disappointment. However, it must be noted that the ensemble’s
acting in this production was very impressive; though they were not always featured, every ensemble
member was constantly acting, and acting well, even when they were in the background of scenes. Having
a strong ensemble is crucial to any show, and the ensemble of this production was what made the acting
in the production, on the whole, quite impressive.
Though the main focus of the show for the viewer is the actors on stage, there were many details in the
show that led to it being cohesive and stunning. The set pieces were well designed, well moved, and well
placed, thanks to the efforts of scenic designer Anna Louizos and stage manager Kathryn R. Herman. The
set pieces seemed to almost be in perpetual motion in order to show the progression of time and to keep
up with the perpetual motion of the characters, and the movement of elaborate set pieces on and off the
stage occurred flawlessly. The most impressive set piece and stage design happened with the reveal of
Cinderella’s golden carriage; with a bang and a flash of light (coordinated seamlessly by lighting designer
Kenneth Posner and sound designer Nevin Steinberg) the grandiose, illuminated, gilded carriage suddenly
appears on the stage, and the applause and audible gasp from the audience that accompanied its arrival
speaks volume of its impact. The costumes were equally as sensational; it is clear to any seasoned
theatre-goer that the dazzling confection that is Cinderella’s white ball gown, along with the rest of the
stunning costumes, is the work of costuming genius William Ivey Long. It is clear that no detail was
passed over by Ivey Long when he designed these costumes; the clothing of every single character was
detail-oriented, appropriate for the scene in which it was worn, and overall wonderful to behold. The
costume changes alone would have been enough to astonish the audience; if I had blinked during “It’s
Possible”, I would have missed Cinderella’s faster-than-light onstage transition from beggar to princess.
And the transition back was equally as seamless; the clever disposal of Cinderella’s sparkling cape into
the fireplace as Madame returned from Prince Topher’s ball, which Cinderella attended as the
unrecognizable beauty she was, was incredibly well-coordinated, as were all of the other scenic, lighting,
sound, and costume aspects of the show.
In the end, this production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was typical; though there were
physical elements of the show that were breathtaking, and there were modern additions to the dialogue
that gained a few laughs from the audience, the storyline has been done so many times, and was done
again this time in the same average way that they usually are, that I wish there were bigger twists and
more excitement throughout the show. The classically overdone theme of kindness was once again too
forced (and when the tagline of a show is “Kind is the New Pretty”, it does not help that the actress
playing Cinderella is incredibly beautiful), and its insincerity drew away from the production’s overall
effect. The modern additions also took away from the immersive experience that theatre is supposed to be
by drawing the viewer back to reality with its jabs at the government and politicians. This production on
the whole ended up being incredibly average, and it could have been redeeming if it was catered toward
children instead of a theatre aficionado. Unfortunately, the plot is too different from the Disney version to
be appealing for small children (and it is definitely doubly confusing and disappointing for them when
Cinderella is, at one point, wearing a gown that is uncanny to that of Belle’s from Beauty and the Beast),
and the Cinderella of this production was not quite the empowered and compassionate role model that the
little girls in tiaras came to be dazzled by. In the end, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is now a
tired and overdone musical, and that was more than clear in this production.

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Review of Cinderella by Dhriti Aiylam

CIN_Logo_500x500_RGB-2Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella: a Different Sized Shoe by Dhriti Aiylam, Student Critic


Many of us know the story of Cinderella. The abused, beautiful, kind young girl who is treated awfully by her family, the drastic lengths she has to go through to be able to go the handsome Prince’s ball, and the instant connection that forms between her and the Prince, resulting in their “happily ever after” ending. We also know how she left her shoe behind, leaving the Prince only that small bit of evidence to find her- and after tediously trying house after house to see who the shoe fits, he finds the girl of his dreams, and the couple marries happily.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is Cinderella- but with a different taste to it. For starters, Gabrielle (Mimi Robinson), one of the stepsisters, was extremely likable and was on Cinderella (Tatyana Lubov)’s side rather than her stepmother’s. A new character, Jean-Michel (Chris Woods) was introduced. Differences stretched out to the plot as well. Cinderella leaves her shoe on the step, but she quickly snatches it back and runs away. The Prince (Hayden Stanes) holds a second banquet just to find her- and that time, she purposely leaves her shoe behind. Also, there were many other small differences- for example, while Cinderella’s relationship with animals was heavily emphasized in earlier adaptations; it was scarcely mentioned in this one.

But the most important differences between the two were that the musical added a lot more depth to one-sided characters, even adding new, lovable ones. It also dealt with a lot of important themes that the original lacks: governmental issues, and most importantly, especially for the younger viewers, the definition of beauty.

Characterization was the one thing that I can remember very well from the musical. Most, if not all of the characters were at least fairly rounded.

Let’s start with Ella. Ella was typical Ella- beautiful, kind- but she was also much more intelligent. For example, she had a love of books that was not so prominent in the old Cinderella. She also took on a more proactive role in her society, being the liaison between the prince and the poorer people. But even with these new character traits, she still seemed virtually flawless- not making her very interesting.

Prince Topher, on the other hand, had many shades of grey. Although kind-hearted, funny, strong, and adorably clumsy, he is far from perfect. He is very socially awkward, not knowing how to interact around the girls who attend his ball. He is unsure of himself and is trying to discover who he is- making him a very relatable character, especially to teens. Finally, he is very naive- although he means well, he is completely blind to the condition of the poorer people, and manages to be completely and utterly deceived by Sebastian (Ryan M. Hunt), his advisor.

Charlotte, the first stepsister, was definitely a favorite- both personal and with the audience, being the typical big, silly character, but lovable all the same. Charlotte wasn’t all jokes, though: in the song “Stepsister’s Lament”, she analyzes something that is very relevant today: body image. Charlotte, along with the other rejected women, annoyed, sings about why the prince would prefer a beautiful, almost doll-like girl like Cinderella over a girl like her. But although she had her moments, I didn’t like her overall portrayal. She is portrayed as the typical fat, dumb character, only able to walk by limping and thinking of mostly food. This fits a very grounded character trope which can be sensitive to others.

Jean-Michel, on the other hand (my personal favorite) really wanted to make a difference. Although a confident, inspiring speaker for the lower class, he became very awkward when mingling with those of the higher class. This was very interesting to watch as it helped layer his character and showed that, despite the fact that he disliked the way the upper class was treating the lower class, his intimidation of them prevented him from being brave and speaking his mind.

Conventional Cinderella is very shallow in the sense of themes. In the end, the unrealistically perfect girl wins the handsome Prince, and the two of them have a perfect and happy wedding. As with most Disney Princess movies, Cinderella’s character was mainly focused on her beauty. I liked how in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella they clarified the true reason the Prince fell in love with Ella- due to her unwavering kindness. In a world where only exterior beauty is marketed, this is an extremely important theme for young girls. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella allows girls to see the true benefits of Cinderella’s character and idolize those, instead of idolizing her beauty.

Government was also a theme that was heavily emphasized.  Jean-Michel and Gabrielle take all the poor people together and complain to the Prince, who, shocked, has no idea what was going on, as Sebastian was trying to hide this information from him. I thought the idea was very good, because it subtly showed that even a fairy tale world never really is perfect. It also addressed corruption in the government- and how Sebastian tried to indirectly take power by sheltering the Prince from the truth. Finally, this scene really demonstrated how the wealthy live good lives and can be ignorant of all the suffering and poverty the lower classes live in. Although it might’ve been too complex for younger viewers, it was a way to interest older audiences.
The themes were very good in the sense of content, but I think that the execution could’ve been better.

Cinderella’s kindness really just seemed to be a side factor to why the Prince fell in love with her, in all honesty- after all, Cinderella was the most beautiful girl in the room. This theme of beauty relating to kindness was displayed across the entire musical- the more attractive characters were always the kindest ones. Although the musical emphasizes kindness- which is definitely good- it, like many other things in the media, connects physical beauty to inner beauty- something which I think is a bad message, as the two are completely unrelated.

The government theme wasn’t handled very well either. I liked the contrast between reality and fantasy- but it was very black-and-white. The transitions were rather poor- for example, Cinderella and the Prince would start a romantic song, but after that, it awkwardly shifted to the peasants discussing the state of the government with the Prince- something that must’ve been especially confusing to the little ones.

Now, for the technical aspect of the show- the music, the lighting, the dancing, and the costumes. All of them, in my opinion, were fantastic. The music, without a doubt, fell into the category of Disney songs- but Disney songs are always special and charming. The lyrics of the songs, in particular, helped to offer insights into the characters in incredible ways. Songs such as “In My Little Corner” and “Stepsister’s Lament” helped to really show what the character was feeling inside- something that was so much more powerful than a dialogue or soliloquy could be. I also loved the lighting, as the lighting helped set a mood for every scene. For example, in the beginning, when Prince Topher was fighting the monster, the woody, dark, scene helped to set a foreboding, ominous mood, while the beautiful blue of the night of the ball helped to show what an incredible time Cinderella and Topher were having in the palace. The dancing was also spectacular- all the actors knew their steps very well, and seemed to glide gracefully and effortlessly about the stage. The technical transitions from scene to scene were also excellent- the scenes just seemed to blend together, so the transitions didn’t seem choppy. The stage would also have actors performing while the transitions were occurring so they weren’t distracting.

However, I have to say the costumes were my favorite part of the (technical) show. Every single character had a costume that helped to define and enhance their character. The stepmother (Sarah Primmer), for example, was dressed extravagantly, but dressed in crimson, almost blood-colored clothing, showing that although wealthy, she wasn’t a nice person. But I think the thing about the costumes that I will never forget were the costume transitions- the execution was breathtaking. Cinderella’s costume changes in particular were very smooth- whenever she changed from her servant girl gown into the ball gown, she would simply twirl around, and it the old dress would be slowly but subtly cast off while the new dress would come into place- almost as if it were magic.

Despite its flaws, Cinderella was truly an outstanding performance. It combined both themes of fantasy and reality- and admittedly, although it had its ups and downs, it is undoubtedly a performance worth watching- whether it be the glimmering costumes, the lessons to be learned, or just for the timeless characters. So put on your Venetian glass slippers, slip on your ball gown, and get ready to waltz into a show almost as magical as the fairy godmother herself!

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Review of Kinky Boots by Kaycee Conover

KB logoReal Life Wears Kinky Boots by Kaycee Conover, Student Critic

With feisty celebration and red hot passion, Kinky Boots brings you on a journey towards acceptance alongside Lola (J. Harrison Gee), a drag queen who has found himself in performing, and Charlie Price (Adam Kaplan), an uncertain twenty-something who finds his deceased father’s dwindling shoe factory in his disinterested hands. Together, the surface opposites use their specialties to save the factory, a home for so many workers, and along the way, find a home in themselves.
Instantly, the audience is swept into the show as the tornado of events begins the first act. The vibrancy of the music stuns and the execution of every note and step is effortless, creating a completely engaging performance. Lola’s witty comments to the audience only add to the inviting nature of the show. It successfully weaves real life into the fantastical storytelling of theatre, as exemplified in the overwhelming speed of events that closely resemble the intense nature of life itself. The alacrity of the entirety of the show does produce some incoherent lyrics, as there is so much to be said in just the exposition. Nonetheless, the vivid energy and thematic greatness of Kinky Boots tells the heartwarming tale deftly and beautifully.
Crafted with more than sparkles and shine, the characters of Kinky Boots are the foundation of its brilliance. Many have credits on Broadway or long lists of regional merits, as evident in their enthusiastic performances. J. Harrison Gee’s portrayal of Lola, an utter star, is phenomenal in every sense. His voice is genuine and his presence is as enormous as his heels. Adam Kaplan as Charlie Price provided a soulful performance of his lost-and-searching character. The confusion of finding your passion that Charlie endures can be quite an awkward adventure, but Adam Kaplan embraces the traditional character with his own genuine spirit, moving the crowd in his raw solo performance of “Soul of a Man.” The supporting performers are exquisite in their own way as well, captivating the audience with the portrayal of authentic people. Tiffany Engen as Lauren and Aaron Walpole as Don, for example, share their characters with authenticity, shying away from no aspect of their true selves in their humor and mannerisms. Nothing about Kinky Boots appears false. The message of the show is real and the entire performance reflects that.
To illustrate the theme of acceptance, Kinky Boots showcases the many different colors of the many different souls in the world. The electric shine of Gregg Barnes’ costume design is spunky and beautifully coexists with the confidence of its wearers. Lola’s Angels, his fellow club dancers, rock their gorgeously made outfits as they awe the audience with their unbelievable moves, credit to dignified choreographer Jerry Mitchell. All of Jerry Mitchell’s choreography choices prove that you can do anything in a heel. A dazzling conveyer belt performance is heart stopping and fearless.
Beyond just the flash of the costuming and choreography, the impact of Kinky Boots is completely awe-inspiring. The struggle of accepting the people of the world for who they are is explored with ease through action and example as the storyline continues to its conclusion, including eye-opening solos by our two main characters. Lola, Charlie, and their factory friends find themselves met with inner conflict as they look down upon the passions of others. People are met with this battle every day as they follow in the judgmental footsteps of society, especially in the recent popularity of clashing with the opinions of others. The story of Lola and Charlie’s influence on each other’s lives inspires everyone to put on their own sparkly, red heels and walk their own way. With style.

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Review of Kinky Boots by J. Michael Atchue

KB logoKinky Boots Tramples Over Substance and Nuance in Favor of Style and Panache by J. Michael Atchue, Student Critic.


“Never regret thy fall,” once wrote Oscar Wilde, “ O Icarus of the fearless flight, for the
greatest tragedy of them all is never to feel the burning light.” Wilde’s opinion of the mythical
Greek character was that his greatest error was not succumbing to hubris-but instead failing to
achieve greatness in spite of an intense effort. It is therefore fitting that Wilde himself is quoted
in the Hanover Theatre’s produ ction of Kinky Boots, a dazzling spectacle that tragically fails to
engage the audience with its largely humdrum characters and hackneyed storyline.
Whatever reservations one might feel towards the show’s narrative backbone, Kinky
Boots offers up a splendidly well-oiled special effects machine of seamless transitions, creative
sound design, memorable songs, and a colorful rainbow of bright lights and vibrant sets. This
exhilaratingly flashy and fun display of the Hanover Theatre’s extravagant visual flair as well as
the beauty of Cyndi Lauper’s music would be enough to make Kinky Boots worth seeing if not
for the fatal errors within Harvey Fierstein’s script.
The cast of Kinky Boots is, with exceptions, a smorgasbord of clearly gifted actors vainly
trying to animate stale, one dimensional characters. Adam Kaplan does his best as Charlie Price,
a frustrated businessman trying to prevent his shoemaking company from going under, but he
can’t change the fact that his character is a bland Justin Trudeau doppelgänger with all of the
Canadian Prime Minister’s dashing good looks, half of his brains, and none of his graceful
leadership capabilities. His witty co-worker, Lauren, is portrayed with great enthusiasm and
humor by Tiffany Engen, but her sadly limited time on stage is too often dedicated to
participating in a cliched love triangle with Price and his fiancée Nicola, played by Charissa
Hogeland, a whiny and selfish businesswoman who everyone knows will, thank God, be dumped
in the end. But it is J. Harrison Ghee who is the real star of the show, the man who effortlessly
brings the well-rounded, fully realized character of Lola to life. Ghee, playing a transvestite
haunted by an abusive childhood, exudes a wonderful liberality and vigor that enraptures the
audience’s attention and love every glorious time he struts on stage.
The uneven characterization seen in Kinky Boots translates into an awkwardly
unbalanced story. While Fierstein’s script earns high marks for promoting tolerance of the
LGBTQ community, his honorable social stance does not justify a poorly paced and predictable
narrative. The play hardly ever finds its footing, either rushing through characterization or
occasionally spending far too long on extended musical numbers that, while initially delightful,
tediously overstay their welcome. Just about every twist and turn in the plot can be easily
anticipated from the show’s promising opening to its overdue finale, further diminishing the
potentially elating experience that Kinky Boots could offer with a stronger narrative backbone.
But just as Ghee’s performance as Lola is the highlight of the show’s cast, the scenes revealing
his character’s moving backstory are beautifully poignant masterworks that elevate the otherwise
weightless script.
It is truly a shame that Kinky Boot’s sporadic bursts of joy are overwhelmed by horribly
mundane characters and a dull storyline. The music is certainly worth listening to and happily
can be found online. Yet enduring two and a half hours of cardboard characters and a lazily
crafted story is too high a price to pay for witnessing the Hanover Theatre’s visual talents that
are certainly put to better use in superior productions.

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Review of Kinky Boots by Sabrina Woolf

KB logo

Kinky Boots- Its A Shoe-Stopper! by Sabrina Woolf, Student Critic

            I didn’t know what to expect when I took my seat in Hanover Theatre for the Tony-Award winning musical, Kinky Boots. What were those iconic ruby red high heeled boots all about anyway? Surely we couldn’t expect the ensemble to do show-stopping dance moves in six inch high heels! (I was proven wrong.)  I am proud to report that Kinky Boots is theatre like never seen before- unforgettably mixing the sequins and sparkle of Broadway with a message every audience member is lucky to have experienced: accepting people for who they are. The music, by Cyndi Lauper, of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” fame, has heart, soul, and a deepness to it so rarely seen on the stage.

            Based on a true story, Kinky Boots is about a shoe factory- owner, Charlie Price, and his struggle not just to find himself- but to find a niche market to save all of the jobs at the family business. Just when it seems Charlie’s luck has run out he encounters Lola- a drag queen, who might just save the factory armed only with her sass and sparkles. The friendship between Lola and Charlie is priceless and grows into something so personal and special, especially when they reveal their struggle with people not allowing them the freedom to be themselves in “I’m Not My Father’s Son.” In Lola’s case she is told to never dress or act like a woman, but throughout the story she learns to have true confidence and acceptance in herself- a lesson only learned when she meets Charlie.

            The show was put together by musical heavy-weights- choreography by Jerry Mitchell as well as a book by Harvey Fierstein. I know this show would not have been a smash without the unforgettable lead, J. Harrison Ghee, as Lola. The show seemed like the usual feel-good-Broadway stereotype until she strutted onto the scene. Her songs were all hits- including the “Land of Lola”, “The Sex Is In the Heel”, and “Hold Me In Your Heart”. In one scene, Lola tries to fit into the male crowd and gets made fun of for what bathroom she uses- relating beautifully to struggles people face today. Throughout the show she reveals to Charlie a part of herself that is very personal- with the line “Whatever I wanted as a kid my father beat out of me.” How can we live in a society when we hit people based on what they love to wear? The audience was so engrossed in her tale there were ecstatic cheers when she finally found her acceptance.

            The music had a rock-and-roll, edgy vibe which really resonated with the audience. A cast standout was Tiffany Engen as Lauren, the quirky and awkward factory worker who realizes she has a crush on Charlie in “The History of Wrong Guys”. The way she dances and belts that song out got the entire audience wildly cheering! I would have loved to see some more depth to characters other than Lola. Charlie and his relationship with his girlfriend was not fully explored, and Don’s background would have been an interesting side story.  However, with this show I guess you have to just “Take What You Got” (Another fun song in the show.).

            The Angles, or Lola’s backup singers, were unforgettable! All of these fabulous drag queens carried the entire show- doing splits and Rockettes kicks whilst sporting six inch high heeled boots! The energy they brought to the show gave it life- the match to the gasoline in order to make this show an explosion of color, fun, and creativity.

            I don’t know if I have ever enjoyed myself more at the theatre than with Kinky Boots, not because of the glitz, glam, and glitter, but because I felt empowered by Lola’s story. This show won the Tony due to its positive message, and I am grateful for the experience. At the end of the show they sing, “You Can Change the World if you change your mind”, and I certainly felt that way witnessing the magic of those sparkly boots.


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