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Why the Hit Show ‘Kinky Boots’ IS a Family Musical

August 31st, 2015 by admin

kinky The original Kinky Boots cast(Credit: Matthew Murphy)

In advance of “Kinky Boots” at the Shubert June 8-12, 2016, we are sharing blog posts from various  sources to give our patrons an idea of what the show is about, and understand why it’s such a smash hit! 

 

 

“Children are smarter than any of us,” said Bill Hicks, the late comedian and satirist. “Know how I know that? I don’t know one child with a full time job and children.”

But seriously, kids are often wiser than we give them credit for. And sometimes they can find true inspiration in places that may not seem initially obvious. Take the Broadway hit show Kinky Boots, which is now touring throughout the United States. In the Tony Award-winning musical, the owner of an old school shoe factory has to find a fabulously creative way to keep his family’s business from going under. So he takes some untraditional steps to save the company. But more than that, as the show’s lyrics tell us, the musical is about how to “celebrate yourself triumphantly” and “accept yourself and you’ll accept others too.”

Some people may not automatically think, Kinky Boots – great family show. But don’t be thrown by the title. I asked Daryl Roth, a Kinky Boots producer with Hal Luftig, why the show is wonderful for families.

What lessons can children learn from the show that they can bring with them into adulthood?

At the end of the day, Kinky Boots is about acceptance – accepting yourself and accepting other people for who they are: the importance of kindness, understanding, and friendship. What better lesson could you want to teach your child? It also addresses bullying, and that’s sadly an issue so many kids face now. Not only that, but there’s lots of costumes with glitter and great music which makes you want to dance in the aisles, and I think kids love that, too!

Roughly what percentage of your Broadway audience includes families?

In recent months, around 21% of our audience has been families, which is approximately the Broadway musical average. That’s definitely higher than it was when the show first started running, so I think people are less scared off by the title than they used to be. And the word of mouth is that it’s a great show for young people and families. When I visit the theater, I see families all the time, and young people really enjoying the experience. My own grandchildren (ages 10, 12, and 14) have seen the show numerous times, love it, and know the soundtrack by heart!

 What’s the youngest age that would you recommend a child should be to see Kinky Boots?

While Telecharge recommends 10 and up, my youngest granddaughter saw it for the first time at 8 and enjoyed it as much as her older sisters. We have had children as young as 6 come to see it. And one young girl who came to visit the show posted a video about how much it meant to her. It was really charming. It depends on the maturity of the child, but there’s absolutely nothing inappropriate in this show that kids cannot see – no bad language, no scary characters. When you learn about acceptance, understanding, and love at a young age, it will help define how you live your life.

What kind of response have you gotten from families who have seen Kinky Boots?

I hear all the time from friends, colleagues, and people I meet at the theater about how their families and the young people in their lives have had a meaningful experience at Kinky Boots. And I met with a sixteen-year-old from New Jersey who has seen the show over twenty times. The heart of the musical is about families, friendship, and love – something for all ages, a show that families can share together.

 

For tickets to Kinky Boots at the Shubert New Haven June 8-12, 2016, visit www.shubert.com or call the Shubert Box Office at 203-562-5666 or 888-736-2663.

 

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By JERYL BRUNNER @jerylbrunner

February 11, 2015

Book of Mormon restores faith in musicals – Review by The Washington Post

August 24th, 2015 by admin

In advance of “The Book of Mormon” at the Shubert Oct. 13-18, 2015, we are sharing theatre reviews from various media outlets to give our patrons an idea of what the show is about, and understand why it’s such a smash hit! 

 

 

‘Book of Mormon’ restores faith in musicals

By Peter Marks, The Washington Post, July 11, 2013

Don’t believe what they say. Money can buy happiness.

It’s yours for the price of a ticket to “The Book of Mormon.” And if you’re already in possession of one, then you’ve wisely secured a seat in the premier-class cabin of delirium.

The brainchild, you may have heard, of “South Park” provocateurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone and “Avenue Q” co-conspirator Robert Lopez, “The Book of Mormon” feels as fresh and frisky and incandescently outrageous in the Kennedy

Center Opera House as it did two years ago when it debuted on Broadway. That coming-out earned it a slew of Tonys, among them the statuettes for best musical, direction, score and book.

The cast of The Book of Mormon - Photo: Joan Marcus

The cast of The Book of Mormon – Photo: Joan Marcus

The touring cast, led by Mark Evans as Elder Price, the brazen young missionary with an ego as vast as a tabernacle choir, and Christopher John O’Neill playing Elder Cunningham, the all-time king of underachieving misfits, does this irreverent roasting of sacred cows proud. And with superb support from Samantha Marie Ware, as a dewy Ugandan with visions of Salt Lake City dancing in her head, and Grey Henson, portraying a Mormon believer bursting to spring from the closet, the farcical team proves to be absolutely first-string.

You’ll not only laugh; you’ll also marvel at the skill with which this show is constructed. Yes, the jibes descend into the juvenile, and the jokes at the expense of religion, AIDS and Third World poverty may compel you to wonder how that sweet-looking older couple at the end of your aisle is taking to all the seemingly blasphemous profanity. But the surprising thing about “Book of Mormon” is that despite all its nihilistic swagger, it’s a musical with a soul.

It’s also as sturdily assembled as any of those airtight musicals of yore, the ones that Parker, Stone and Lopez pay homage to in their tuneful score. The hilarious Act II number, “Joseph Smith American Moses,” performed by the Ugandan villagers newly swept up by the story of Mormonism, owes an obvious debt to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” and its Siamese reinterpretation of Harriet Beecher Stowe, in “The Small House of Uncle Thomas.” Other sharp production numbers, such as “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” and the utterly inspired lampoon of psychological denial, “Turn It Off,” could have come from Mel Brooks’s playbook.

They’ve all been packaged with optimal attention to momentum. Glance at your watch at the start of the opening song, “Hello,” a charmingly withering paean to door-to-door proselytizing, because it will be the last time you’ll remember to. Act I barrels breathlessly from one smart song to the next and the next, under the direction of Parker and choreographer and co-director Casey Nicholaw.

The musical’s underlying thematic presumption is that the stories of the Bible are not meant to be taken literally. This could play like irritating, elitist snark — if it all weren’t presented with such an embracing sense of fun. The show intersperses in elders Price and Cunningham’s excellent African adventure several tongue-in-cheek dramatizations of the story of Joseph Smith, 19th-century founder of the Latter-day Saints movement. You laugh, in part because the storytelling has that “Hey, wait a minute!” quality, the kind that might have occurred to you back in Sunday school, listening to stories of miracles that had to be accepted on faith.

“I love all these Mormon stories!” a villager declares. “They are so f—ing weird!” Admittedly, Elder Cunningham, a Mormon with an arm’s-length relationship with the truth, does tend to add Ewoks and starships to the stories he recounts for the village, and it’s these embellishments that win the villagers over. The episodes do not seem intended to shake anyone’s faith. They focus a caustic comic lens on the odd ways in which the spiritual is sometimes translated into digestible imagery. To underline the point, there’s a wonderful moment near the end of the show, when one of the Ugandan villagers reveals how less than gullible they’ve all been all along.

The emotional weight of “The Book of Mormon” is borne by the relationship between the condescending Price — the missionary equivalent of a mean girl — and the desperately needy Cunningham. They’re “Mormon’s” answer to Abbott and Costello, and they have to come across as endearing to us as they are abrasive to each other. With his lean, scrubbed good looks and athletic dancing, Evans is a splendid inheritor of the part from Broadway’s terrific Andrew Rannells. Like Rannells, Evans is able to convey Elder Price’s messianic self-belief as a positive attribute, and his rendition of what may be “Mormon’s” best song, “I Believe,” communicates the number’s priceless sense of irony.

Trying to replicate what the great clown Josh Gad achieved on Broadway would be silly. (Like Rannells, Gad was robbed of the Tony.) So O’Neill takes the character of Elder Cunningham in a slightly less oafish direction, and it pays off on the softer side of the musical. Gyrating like a lounge lizard half his size, O’Neill displays a surprising showmanship in the Act I finale, “Man Up,” and his duet with Ware’s Nabulungi in Act II’s double-entendre song, “Baptize Me,” is gently persuasive.

In the characters’ evolving alliance, Evans and O’Neill manage to forge an affecting friendship. How they seal a bond gives “Mormon” the heart it admirably seeks.

Ware is a beguiling presence in the poignant “Sal Tlay Ka Siti”: she dreams of a paradise in Utah, where “There’s a Red Cross on every corner/With all the flour you can eat.” And the ensemble of Ugandan villagers, pleasingly led by Kevin Mambo’s Mafala Hatimbi, at all times brings astuteness to the satire. (Designer Scott Pask’s rendering of their misery of a village is, to say the least, a revelation.)

“The Book of Mormon” does evince a strange fixation with “The Lion King,” a joke that it overplays. But really, it’s fruitless to quibble with a piece of this entertaining caliber. It is the kind of evening that restores your faith. In musicals.

 

For Tickets to “The Book of Mormon” at The Shubert Theatre New Haven – Oct. 13-18, 2015, please visit www.shubert.com or call the Shubert Box Office at 203.562.5666  or 888.736.2663

 

“The Book of Mormon: A Testament to Song, Dance, and Lunacy – Boston Globe Review

August 10th, 2015 by admin

In advance of “The Book of Mormon” at the Shubert Oct. 13-18, 2015, we are sharing theatre reviews from various media outlets to give our patrons an idea of what the show is about, and understand why it’s such a smash hit!  

 

 

 

 

‘The Book of Mormon’: a testament to song, dance, and lunacy

By Don Aucoin Globe Staff April 11, 2013

Chicago Mormon 1

Photo credit: Joan Marcus. Mark Evans, as Elder Price, sings “I Believe’’ to a warlord played by Derrick Williams.

The tricky thing about being an iconoclast is that you can turn around one day and find you’ve become an icon yourself. It can get a mite awkward when, to paraphrase Pogo, we have met the establishment and he is us.

That’s more or less what has happened to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. After their taboo-toppling ways on Comedy Central’s “South Park’’ made them rich and famous, they ventured into the more decorous arena of the Broadway musical, collaborating with Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q’’) to create “The Book of Mormon’’ — and topple any remaining taboos.

The show didn’t just win a whopping nine Tony Awards in 2011, including best musical. No, “The Book of Mormon’’ became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, a sell-your-soul-for-a-ticket juggernaut whose appeal extended well beyond the usual musical-theater crowd, attracting audiences who wouldn’t know Auntie Mame from Uncle Vanya.

Its success triggered a bit of backlash, including a blistering “Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking’’ sketch that called the show “The Book of Moron’’ and depicted Parker and Stone as a couple of shameless greedheads who boasted in song that “To murder good taste is our mission.’’

Now Bostonians — or those able to score pricey tickets, anyway — finally have a chance to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. The national touring production of “Mormon’’ has settled in at the Boston Opera House, presented by Broadway in Boston. Was it worth the wait? Oh yeah. Does good taste indeed get murdered? Absolutely.

At its most inspired moments, this production of “Mormon’’ reaches a state of giddy delirium that sweeps the audience along in its wake. Directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw, with knee-pumping choreography by Nicholaw that might be the single funniest thing about the show, “Mormon’’ is that rare musical that doesn’t weaken in Act 2. In fact, some of the show’s strongest numbers — “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,’’ “I Believe,’’ and “Tomorrow is a Latter Day’’ — arrive after intermission.

A scorched-earth satire where nothing is sacred or off-limits — be forewarned, there is something in this show to offend just about everyone — “Mormon’’ follows a pair of young Mormon missionaries, Elder Price (Mark Evans) and Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O’Neill), as they journey to an impoverished village in Uganda, intent on converting the residents.

Chicago Mormon 2.2

Photo credit: Joan Marcus From left: Phyre Hawkins, Mark Evans, and Christopher John O’Neill in “The Book of Mormon.’’

But the villagers find it hard to focus on spiritual matters when they have pressing temporal concerns to deal with, such as a ruthless warlord with an unprintable name. Pretty soon, Elder Price — who had previously been the picture of self-confidence, convinced he was marked for greatness — is undergoing a spiritual and emotional crisis of his own. Meanwhile, it is an affair of the heart that preoccupies Elder Cunningham: He is smitten with the village leader’s daughter, Nabulungi, played by Samantha Marie Ware.

As Elder Price, Evans is outstanding. From start to finish, his performance is loaded with wit, polish, physical ingenuity, and supple vocalizing in such numbers as the preeningly egotistical “You and Me (But Mostly Me’’).

O’Neill, who is making his professional theater debut, lacks the indelible comic presence and timing Josh Gad brought to the role of Elder Cunningham on Broadway, so this schlubby, insecure character doesn’t generate the laughs he should in Act 1. But O’Neill grows in assurance and likability as the evening wears on; he is particularly winning in “Baptize Me,’’ an innuendo-laden duet with Ware.

As for Ware, she is exceptionally good as Nabulungi. While nailing all the comic moments, she brings an aching poignancy to her rendition of “Sal Tlay Ka Siti,’’ where Nabulungi gives voice to her dream of a better life.

Beyond the principals, “Mormon’’ needs a topnotch ensemble to really work, and this production has one. Standouts include Grey Henson as Elder McKinley, who leads other missionaries in a tap-dancing ode to emotional repression titled “Turn It Off’’; Derrick Williams as the warlord; and Kevin Mambo as Mafala Hatimbi, the village leader.

For all of its many, many raunchy moments, this is, at heart, a sweet-natured show. And for all of its impudence, the reality is that “Mormon’’ is positively bursting with affection for the old-fashioned Broadway musical, an institution it does as much to revitalize as to upend. The establishment never had it so good.

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.