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Kinky Boots Chicago previews?

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pc1145N2
Broadway Star
joined:5/28/07
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 05:21pm
I saw this on Saturday evening. The last 45 minutes was the best. I agree with most everything written here already. For me, the biggest negative was Stark Sands. Way too bland. By contrast Billy Porter literally steals the show from him. For the most part, I thought the score was less than memorable. I realized this was the first week of previews that's why I also have tickets for the last week of the run. I'll be curious to see what improvements are made.

Annaleigh Ashford is fantastic in a role that is too small.

On a side note, Bruce Villanch was sitting in my row taking notes all during the show. I'm assuming he's going to try and liven the show up a bit. It needs all the help it can get.
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 05:38pm
pc1145N2 - I saw Bruce there as well. I assume you were there on Sat. night?

Owen - I definitely hear you on that rather sudden shift of Charlie's character in Act II. I sorta see where they were going with it--stress building to save the factory/jobs that he lashes out--but it's not quite there to lead into Soul of a Man. I thought the beginning of Act I can be rather brilliant, it just they blasted through opening plot points to get the show going...maybe an opening number that is able to accommodate his growing up and what happened to his father in a way that feels earned.

I didn't mind Stark Sands as others...but I mean Charlie as written can't stand up to Lola, especially as played by Billy Porter who is commanding the stage. Punching up Charlie may help Sands rise to the occasion.

I definitely want to see this near the end of the run to see if it grows in the next month. I'll say again, I think the show can be a big hit, a few bold choices can really help.
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shrekster224
Broadway Legend
joined:1/27/10
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 05:45pm
Didn't think that Clifton Oliver would be the Lola standby. I honestly don't know too much about the show, but I was thinking more along the lines of Nathan Lee Graham. Anyone know why there isn't also a regular understudy?
Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 07:09pm
PC, yes, as in the film he lashes out at the factory workers out of stress, but that point is redeemed in the film. In the show they try to use that also as the impetus to hurt Lola and it is SO not enough. Its too ugly and extreme to come out of stress, unless the character is truly vile. As I noted in the film, he's already feeling emasculated in that moment and then having this man in a dress sit down next to him, as mean at it is, it's reasonable. I fear they might think "Soul of a Man" is a good song and are trying to mold the book to save and keep the song instead of the other way around.
Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 07:13pm
And I also have to defend Stark Sands somewhat and take back a little of what I said. If after seeing his sweet Brit boy in "Journey's End" and I knew then there was a musical of "Kinky Boots" coming I would have said Stark Sands would be the PERFECT Charlie. So it must be bad writing and unfamiliarity with role still that is making him come off weak. I'm sure he has it in him.
JordanHaliday
Understudy
joined:8/23/12
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 07:31pm
its against matilda. Matilda has a lot of press and awards. Anyone think this is npt going to last
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Idiot
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/10
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 07:45pm
There's very little right now that I'm DYING to see. It may be a list of one. This.
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WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 09:42pm
I'm disappointed to hear that Stark Sands is bland. I've really enjoyed his past performances and was excited to see him finally get to lead a production. I still am excited, though, and I have faith he'll get stronger!
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
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SondheimFan5
Broadway Legend
joined:6/20/10
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 10:31pm
How are the orchestrations?

Anyone heard any casting ideas for Matilda? (Or at least for Trunchbull...)
JordanHaliday
Understudy
joined:8/23/12
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 10:31pm
he was good in american idiot
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wildcat
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/04
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 10:34pm
Bertie Carvel is coming over to play Trunchbull
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Marlothom
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/04
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 11:03pm
No disrespect to the actress (because she is great in the role), but I think what this show needs to do is get rid of the fiancee character. The way they dress her and from her opening lines you know they are not going to end up together (and frankly you don't want them to) - she is basically dressed like the fiance in Legal Blonde.

(spoiler alert)
But more than than - it takes some of the potential from Charlie's character. He would be much more interesting if HE wanted to leave the small town and craved "upward mobility", if he found about the "deal" his dad made directly from the real estate agent - this could lead to a great scene and a more logical place for Soul of a Man. The break-up is pretty meaningless because you never really like her - also the bit with the red shoes never goes nowhere. This would also provide more stage time for the other female role and bring more focus to the "platonic" love story between Lola and Charlie.

(the alternative is to get rid of the other female role and make Charlie and fiance really in love - change her wig - and add scenes of Charlie really trying to make this work and failing, maybe as the factory is succeeding. But this seems like too much at this point).

The other big change they need to make is to move this baby to a US setting - a la Full Monty. I think this show can resonate with a A LOT of tourists from towns in the US that revolve around ONE company supporting much of the population, the recent recession and finally, give the US audience a sense of orientation - how far are the different towns from each other, are they really conservative? The shop can be in New Rochelle, the club in NYC and the fashion show in Hollywood, for example.

Finally, as fun as it is, they need to get rid of the boxing match - it goes nowhere and they should be spending those 10 minutes explaining why Charlie is so stressed, the stakes of the fashion show, why things are not as cheery as they where when the curtain went down in Act 1., etc.).

Just some thoughts. I am excited to see this show again next week and see what has changed.
"Observe how bravely I conceal this dreadful dreadful shame I feel."
Updated On: 10/7/12 at 11:03 PM
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Menken Fan
Broadway Star
joined:6/2/03
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 11:42pm
Agree with Marlothom on the changes that are needed. The fiance and the boxing match add nothing. I'll add that the "magic act" theme during "Beware the Black Widow" should be chopped. It's not magical, and it's kind of strange to have one of the Angels in a box with non-threatening knives being inserted.
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Marlothom
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/04
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/7/12 at 11:53pm
they should "re-imagine" the boxing match as a club number. It's confusing why one of the "girls" is on the other guy's side.
"Observe how bravely I conceal this dreadful dreadful shame I feel."
Copperfield2
Stand-by
joined:11/4/06
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 10:12am
Can someone tell me if this show has an orchestra in the pit?

I am sitting in the second row of the orchestra center and now I'm wondering if I'll be sitting too close.

One reason I wanted to see this show is Stark Sands because I liked him a lot in American Idiot.
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PitPro2004
Broadway Star
joined:2/15/04
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 11:00am
I was wondering the same thing re: orch. Stephen Oremus is out there at the helm, but I'd like to know who is in the pit as well.
"Sticks and stones, sister. Here, have a Valium!"
mpd4165
Stand-by
joined:8/6/09
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 12:00pm
Orchestra:

Conductor/Keyboard 1: Brian Usifer
Associate Conductor/Keyboard 2: Will Van Dyke
Drums: Sammy Merendino

Synthesizer Programmer: Randy Cohen

Violin: Roberta Freier, Steve Winkler
Violin/Viola: Paul Zafer
Cello: Jocelyn Davis-Beck
Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Tim Burke
Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Flute: Steve Leinheiser
Guitar 1: Steve Roberts
Guitar 2: Kraig McCreary
Electric Bass: Tom Mendel
Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 12:13pm
Getting rid of the fiance altogether is a FANTASTIC idea.

The wrestling match replaces an arm wrestling match from the film. Obviously a wrestling match is more physical and musical number friendly. It also makes sense as Lola was trained and worked as a prize-fighter (which oddly, was also taken from the film). And that sort of physical manly confrontation is needed for Dan Sherman's homophobic Don to come to respect Lola, thusly allowing him to help redeem Charlie when he is being an ass to the workers. Unfortunately, as noted, Charlie goes beyond redemption as the show is adapted now. But the match IS necessary for the deal Don and Lola make. These moments are so lovely in the film but just missing it in the stage show.

One of the reasons they kept the show in Northampton is that it's based on a true story. The film is actually dedicated to the Workers of the real Kinky Boots factory. I can't say if it was the right choice, but they are trying to honor the story by keeping it in its true-life original environment.
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peachesr82
Stand-by
joined:12/17/08
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 12:34pm
Being in the UK, I can't get to see this, though I will when it opens in NY. It sounds like all the pieces are there they just need refining, glad to hear it has it's moments though, I'm a little disappointed Stark isn't quite living up expectations.

I don't know why it would need to be changed from Northampton (or the North of Hampton as Jerry Mitchell said in one interview!) to the US, as has been said it's based on a true story. I'd like to think that American theatre goers can cope with a story set in the UK, just as we manage with US set pieces.

Updated On: 10/8/12 at 12:34 PM
Jenn56
Swing
joined:4/24/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 12:55pm

Updated On: 4/7/13 at 12:55 PM
Owen22
Broadway Legend
joined:2/24/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 01:26pm
The show is somewhat about fathers and sons, so the young versions of themselves forgiving their fathers is valid, but at the moment not convincing and sorta cringe-worthy.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 02:02pm
"By contrast Billy Porter literally steals the show from him. "

He steals the show, literally? Where does he hide it?

I hope some clips from this are released--all the reports are fascinating.
Mercades
Leading Actor
joined:11/6/05
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 02:44pm
I haven't seen this yet. The reports I have heard from chicago friends are vastly different than this thread. (everyone seemed to enjoy it) but i will make my conclusions. I guess my only question is why people are calling Stark Sands bland?

From the movie, which I know quite well, the character is not bland, but just an everyman. Could it be next to a funny, quick, drag queen like lola (Billy Porter) that the character seems dull/bland? Not everything has to be over the top. From what I know of his work, he is a superb actor and is probably just being (shudder to think...) REAL?

and is the "boxing" everyone is referring to in place of the arm wrestle?
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peachesr82
Stand-by
joined:12/17/08
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 02:53pm
^ I thought the same thing, maybe Stark is just the perfect everyman like Joel Edgerton was in the film, you always expect the Lola character to be more overwhelming no?
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greensgreens
Stand-by
joined:10/14/09
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 03:08pm
I saw it Saturday and I really liked it. Like many have said, there are moments when it meanders and I found myself scratching my head at some points (the factory workers at the end - it also felt a little "You Can't Stop The Beat" ESPECIALLY when the fiancee that we've hated the whole night shows up and we're supposed to be ok with that). But overall, some very clever moments. It has Jerry (it may be a bit athletic and manic at times), Cyndi (there's a song that is just a little too close to time after time), and Harvey (who gave some clear line readings to Billy Porter) stamped all over it. But, although at first I was complaining, I afterward changed my mind and felt this might be okay. Afterall, they are three masters of their craft and they can nod to themselves occasionally.

They could not change a single thing and it would be the best B'way show I have seen in quite some time, truthfully. But, I know the perfectionism of the creative team will drive them to continue to refine and really crystallize it into something extraordinary. This will be one to watch come awards time!
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ACL2006
Broadway Legend
joined:2/11/06
Kinky Boots Chicago previews?
Posted: 10/8/12 at 03:16pm
I have to agree with the fact that there's nothing that appealling coming to Broadway this season. Only shows I'm interested in seeing are Kinky Boots, Elf & Jekyll & Hyde.
A Chorus Line played its final Broadway performance on August 17, 2008. The tour played its final performance on August 21, 2011. A new non-equity tour started in October 2012 played its final performance on March 23, 2013.

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