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BWW Preview: KINKY BOOTS Comes to Durham

On the heels of another musical-based-on-a-movie-based-on-a-true-story ("Newsies"), "Kinky Boots" is coming to Durham next month as part of the Encore Broadway at DPAC series.

The 2005 movie "Kinky Boots" was directed by Julian Jarrold and written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. Chiwetel Ejiofor was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance as Lola, a drag queen who helps Charlie with his family shoe factory. The musical, written by Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics) and Harvey Fierstein (book), debuted on Broadway in 2013. It won six Tony Awards that year, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Choreography.

I spoke with Tiffany Engen, who plays Lauren, one of the shoe factory employees, in the national tour. Engen has been a fan of "Kinky Boots" since the beginning; in fact, she was in the audience for one of the last rehearsals. She can remember that "even in that setting, you could tell you were seeing something special." She later saw the Broadway production several times.

In addition to having seen the movie and the musical, Engen and other cast members prepared for their roles with photographs and footage from the factory on which the story is based. Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell toured the factory, and all of the machinery on stage are replicas of what he saw there. The actors "dove into the pictures" and worked with dialect coaches, "really immersing" themselves in the Northampton dialect with video clips.

Engen learned a lot from playing Lauren, whom she describes as a "strong female character." While she was a fan of every "Lauren" before her, she said she tries to "really make it her own," and she has come to "identify with her a lot." In fact, Engen believes that "every girl can relate" to Lauren. It's "endearing that she feels awkward in romantic situations," and she's "inspiring to play: If she has an opinion, she says it."

This isn't Engen's first national tour; she played Serena in the first national tour of "Legally Blonde." She said that the great thing about a national tour, especially for "Kinky Boots," is the ability to impact a lot of people. The musical says, "You change the world when you change your mind," and Engen feels that "Kinky Boots" helps make that happen every night. "All kinds of people come in to see the show," she said, and especially in an election year, this message - "live your life with pride and integrity," and "lead with love" - needs to reach as many people as possible. The show "resonates with people in every single state."

Engen said that as they officially kick off the next leg of their tour, she is "super excited to hit the ground running":

"There's something for everybody," she said. "Tell your friends and family to come see the show. It's so joy-filled. And don't let the name 'kinky' deter you. It's a great night of theatre that will hopefully leave everybody with a huge smile on their face."

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From This Author Taryn Oesch

Taryn is a copyeditor and freelance writer in Raleigh, where she is a behind-the-scenes member of the theatre community. Her favorite plays/musicals are Next to (read more...)

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