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Review: KINKY BOOTS at The John W. Engeman Theater

Catch this sensational production now through July 3rd

Review: KINKY BOOTS at The John W. Engeman Theater

Lace up your shoes, throw on your finest jacket, and head down to the John W. Engeman theater for a production of Kinky Boots you won't want to miss. Running now through July 3, Kinky Boots features a star-studded cast bringing the book of Harvey Fierstein and Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper to life in the beautiful Engeman Theatre.

As noted in Igor Goldin's director's note, Kinky Boots is about family. In this story, this comes in the form of two very different ones. A son, who is plagued by his family's shoe manufacturing business after the sudden passing of his father, and a family of drag queens. Through some mutually beneficial business findings, the two groups come together and create a story of love, acceptance, and vulnerability.

The technical aspects of Kinky Boots truly elevate the performance as a whole. Scenic designer Kyle Dixon provides an ever changing playground of a set for the cast to perform on, leaving the audience no shortage of details to gawk over.

Costume and wig designer Kurt Alger provided stunning pieces for the cast. Every cast member looked the part, and the audience was constantly gasping every time a new exciting costume appeared, which was essentially every scene.

Lighting designer Jose Santiago perfectly framed second of the show, lighting up the performers intentionally at every moment. While Omari Collins' Lola was near perfect, the lighting during his solo's only elevated the performance to the next level.

Collins was the true star of the evening, but it would be a shame if Lola was not the star of Kinky Boots. Collins took us on a journey and never slipped up throughout the entire performance. He displayed every side of Lola in the most truthful way that felt possible. From her confidence in "Sex Is In The Heel" to her openness and hurt in "I'm Not My Father's Son." The audience got to experience a Lola that everyone could sympathize with and root for, it's hard not to with vocals like the one's Collins sports. Collins is an enamoring performer and it is magnificently hard to take your eyes off of him when he walks on the stage, keep an eye out for the next time he is performing.

Collins' opposite, Charlie Price played by Zach Hess, was another obvious standout of the evening. He perfectly played the juxtaposed businessman character against Lola, providing a thrilling dynamic throughout the show. Hess' vocals are unmatched and seemed effortless to produce. A chill went through the audience every time he hit a sustained, incredibly high note. It is obvious Hess is a seasoned performer as he commands the entire stage whenever he is on. "The Soul of a Man" was one highlight of the evening and left the audience wanting another Charlie solo.

This production of Kinky Boots would not have been complete without the Angels. Beautifully played by Damien DeShaun Smith, Elijah Dillehay, Kyle Fleig, Jaye Jackson, Kevin Scott, and Kodiak Thompson, the angels were the most uplifting, heartwarming, and energizing part of the evening. Whenever the six angels made their grand entrance on stage, the audience couldn't help but cheer, scream, and nearly participate. Every angel is beyond talented, filled with tricks such as splits, cartwheels, beautiful singing voices, crazy dance moves, and more. You can't help but smile when the angels are on stage, I think it's time the angels get their own show at the Engeman.

Other standouts of the evening include Lily Kaufmann, who provided perhaps the freshest, clearest, and most hilarious take of "History of Wrong Guys" imaginable. She was consistently a crowd favorite throughout the night and always had us rooting for her. Don, portrayed by Demetrio Alomar, was not a crowd favorite, meaning Alomar did his job successfully. Alomar created a beautiful character arc for Don, however, that truthfully proved the message of the show and warmed the hearts of everyone in the house. Charlie Fusari, who played Harry, had a capturing solo towards the beginning of the show in "Take What You Get" that had the audience and I wishing Harry sang more throughout Kinky Boots. Fusari's voice is unmatched and enough to mesmerize you with just one song.

The entire company of Engeman's Kinky Boots was truly outstanding, and everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the entire show. It was clear everyone on stage loved what they were doing, who they were doing it with, and the message they set out to portray. During the finale, "Raise You Up/Just Be" every cast member made connections with someone in the audience, and everyone in the audience felt like they were right up on that stage with them.


For a night of fun, laughter, maybe a few tears, and some high-quality musical theater, make sure to head down to the Engeman before Kinky Boots closes on July 3.

Photo Credit: Stephi Wild


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