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'Kinky Boots' dazzles at the IU Auditorium



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"Kinky Boots” will be performed Oct. 24 and 25 at the IU Auditorium. The musical follows Charlie Price, who struggles to keep his father’s shoe factory running after his father’s death with help from Lola, a drag queen. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Complete with glitter, glam and glue, "Kinky Boots" made its way to the IU Auditorium stage Tuesday night, the first of its two-night stay. The cast of characters shined in numbers that highlighted diversity and acceptance, along with hard work and dedication. 

"Kinky Boots," set in England, centers around Charlie Price, the inheritor of his late father’s shoe factory. Struggling to keep the business afloat, Price is in need of a brand revamp. He finds refuge in London drag queen Lola, who suggests selling high-heeled boots. Their business partnership and ultimate friendship help save the business.

The show had both upbeat and heartfelt moments. Lane Wolf, an IU sophomore who occasionally performs drag locally, said the high-energy vibe of the show is what made it so fun to watch.

“I love how fast-paced the show is,” Wolf said. “The set list is phenomenal, it keeps you on your feet.”

The show's music and lyrics were composed by Grammy Award-winning pop artist Cyndi Lauper. Some songs have a semblance of alternative influence, giving the show an edge that others on Broadway don’t, IU sophomore Mat Esten said.

“I come from a big musical theater family, and I knew nothing about the show going into it,” Esten said. “It was a lot different than previous shows that I’ve seen, like 'Les Mis.'”

The main theme of the show was that acceptance is vital, no matter how different someone may be from you. Esten said tolerance was the message he took away from the show.

“Be yourself and don’t be ashamed of it,” Esten said. “Accept people for who they are.”

Having celebrated its Pridefest in August, Bloomington is known for its citizens being open-minded and inclusive. "Kinky Boots" aligns with the mindset many students and local residents have, Wolf said. 

“What Bloomington is, is love and acceptance,” Wolf said. “'Kinky Boots' definitely encompasses that Bloomington aura.”

The show won the award for best musical at the Tony’s in 2013, with its stunning, colorful visuals and alternative original soundtrack. It has the ability to tell the story of a small-town business and the man who risks everything to save it, with the help of an unlikely friend.

Dancing behind Lola in most of her musical numbers were the “Angels," as a group of six drag queens dressed in glamorous fashions. Seeing drag queens perform on stage was new to some, like IU sophomore Wilfred Farquharson.

“I’ve never seen a show that features a lot of drag,” Farquharson said. “I’m from Georgia, so it doesn’t happen too often.”

"Kinky Boots" opened eyes and filled hearts as its cast shimmied and swayed across the stage. Sparkly red thigh-high boots were the main focal point of the concluding number, being the show's unofficial mascot.

“The choreography is so great,” Wolf said. “What’s better than men in heels?”

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