Kinky Boots fits everyone at the Schuster Center

Photo: Kinky Boots struts into the Schuster Center May 23-28; photo: Matthew Murphy

By Allyson B. Crawford

When someone says “Broadway,” Cyndi Lauper isn’t necessarily a name you think of. But maybe it should be.

Lauper, the ’80s hit-maker, along with Harvey Fierstein, created Kinky Boots, a musical theatre production based on the 2005 British film of the same name. Fierstein wrote the musical and asked Lauper to help write the songs.

The production is set in a British factory town when times are tough. Curt Hansen plays Charlie Price, the man who inherits a failing shoe factory. Through a wild series of events, like getting knocked unconscious, Charlie comes up with the idea to manufacture fetish shoes for drag queens at his factory. Regular high heels won’t sustain the weight of their male wearers, so he creates kinky boots with just the right specifications.

Kinky Boots was nominated for 13 Tony awards and won six, including Best Musical, in 2013. The production will come to Dayton as part of the Premier Health Broadway Series presented by the Victoria Theatre Association.

For Hansen, landing this lead touring role is a massive career boost. It’s his largest role to date and he occupies the stage for much of the production. He is getting to see a lot of the country during this run, including Dayton, where Hansen has never yet performed or visited. He gets one day off a week and does two performances every Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s tough,” Hansen admits of the rigors of the road. “It’s a trick to give it as much as you can for each show, but you have to pace yourself so you don’t burn out. Our only day off is Monday, but on that day, we’re traveling. Sometimes the day off is more strenuous then when we have a show.”

For Hansen, a big draw to the show was working with Kinky Boots director Jerry Mitchell once again. Hansen performed in Hairspray, also directed and choreographed by Mitchell.

“Mitchell’s shows are so much fun to do and I knew that going into it,” Hansen says. “That experience is a huge upside.”

A legend for her quirky style, quick wit, and songwriting ability, Lauper’s score and the perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform her original music immediately drew in Hansen.

“This is definitely not your classic musical theatre, and I mean that in the best way because sometimes musical theatre is schmaltzy and this music is nothing like that,” Hansen laughs.

He had heard of Kinky Boots before, but never saw it until he auditioned.

“I went to see it in New York and thought, ‘I have to be in this because the songs my character gets to sing are so powerful and awesome,’” he says. “I knew it would be a huge challenge.”

A special challenge for Hansen and the rest of the cast was learning to speak in British accents. Hansen was born in Wisconsin and now lives in New York. He doesn’t exactly sound like a Londoner. With the help of a special coach, each cast member learned how to respeak certain words.

Beyond the music, accents, and pageantry of glittery boots and costumes is the overall message of acceptance. At a time when trans and gay rights are coming more into the public conscience, Kinky Boots helps push those issues forward in a non-threatening, entertaining way.

“Our show has a theme: Who cares? Just accept people for who they are—it doesn’t affect you. It’s very poignant for this climate today and I think it’s really special that we get to go to smaller venues and spread this message of the show. We can go to huge metro cities and that’s not where there are issues with this theme. It’s the smaller towns that we get to go—we can entertain and maybe change some minds as well.”

Personally, Hansen hasn’t experienced any backlash from his participation in the show. Overall, the show has been received with open arms and to him, that’s a positive sign.

“I heard there was a little [backlash] when the tour first went out, but not much,” he says. “The people who are against [the message] just don’t come, I guess, but that’s a shame because those are the people who probably should see it.”

 

Kinky Boots takes the stage May 23–28 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. in downtown Dayton. Show is at 8 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday, with an additional 7:30 p.m. performance on Sunday. The Saturday matinee performance will feature a sign language interpreter. Tickets start at $30 for ages 10 and up. For tickets or more information, please call Ticket Center Stage at 937.228.3630 or visit VictoriaTheatre.com.

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com

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