The Daily Iowan

Kinky Boots struts into Hancher

Rhiana Chickering, [email protected]

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Individuals with diverse dispositions and stylish, shimmering stiletto boots dance and sing on stage embracing individuality and acceptance. Accurately dubbed “Hero Boots” by the Kinky Boots ensemble, the iconic red stiletto boots are the backbone of the musical, bringing each character together.

This weekend at Hancher, Kinky Boots will encourage audiences to be themselves without hesitation.

As a true story in which the owner of a struggling shoe-factory, Charlie Price, and drag-queen entertainer, Lola, embrace their differences and create the emblematic boots, Kinky Boots illustrates what happens when people follow their passions and open their minds.

“I really love how all of the factory workers are genuinely shocked at first,” said Madison Pugh, who plays Marge, one of the factory workers, in an email to The Daily Iowan. “I mean, how many of them have ever seen a drag queen? But we all come to accept Lola and her message in our own time, which is what makes the show so fun. Every night, every single person has to go on their own journey.”

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With 16 original songs by pop phenomenon Cyndi Lauper and choreography by Director Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots also makes audiences want to dance and sing along.

“You bring people in a room together and sing them some songs about the importance of individuality — you wear fancy boots, you dance really great — and somehow, that all [transforms] into something people will remember forever.”

At the beginning of the Kinky Boots production process, Pugh recalled the creative team giving her and her fellow cast members a plethora of videos about authentic shoe factories, so they could expertly portray their characters.

“We also had to do a lot of dialect work,” Pugh said. “We’re not speaking in the typical ‘high English’ dialect that you typically think of. The show is set in Northampton, which is up north a bit and has a very specific accent with a lot of dark vowels. It was difficult but really rewarding to nail all of those sounds down.”

Kinky Boots’s stimulating plot and meticulous character depictions appeal to extensive audiences, including high-school students to college students and young adults.

Megan Gogerty, a University of Iowa lecturer specializing in musical theater and dramatic playwriting, explained Broadway musicals such as Kinky Boots are envisioned to be fun and appeal to a variety of people.

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This all-encompassing performance establishes relatability among individuals, while also provoking thought and response.

“It’s incredible hearing how people react and relate to the performances or some aspect of the story or a specific character,” Pugh said. “A lot of people see some of themselves in these characters, so hearing how they relate to the story differently than I do is really fun.”

Since its début in 2012 (Chicago), the musical has earned several major awards, including a Grammy award for “Best Musical Theater Album” and several Tony Awards for categories such as “Best Musical,” “Best Original Score,” and “Best Choreography.”

“It’s a story people will feel good about,” Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson said. “A lot of people love that Broadway spectacle, and it will have a lot of [thrilling] scenes, dancing, character, and fun costumes … It’s a light, fun musical.”

This weekend, people will witness a compassionate story, illustrating just how great change can be once people open their minds to diverse experiences and communities.

“[Kinky Boots] is really about being who you are and expressing yourself, and we believe that’s sort of a universal message in certain ways — that everybody sometimes doesn’t feel like they are accepted for who they are,” Hancher Marketing Director Rob Cline said. “This is a show that speaks to a fairly wide group of people, [demonstrating] the idea that we should peruse our passions and not be ashamed of who we are and accept others for who they are.”

When: Friday @ 7:30 p.m. Saturday @ 2 & 7:30 p.m. April 15 @ 1 & 6:30 p.m.

Where: Hancher

Admission: $50-$90

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