background_fid.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts and Entertainment

Springfield Little Theatre Season Opens With Musical "Kinky Boots"

IMG_0585.JPG
(Poster design courtesy Springfield Little Theatre)
/

Springfield Little Theatre will open their 2021-22 mainstage season at the Landers Theatre with the sassy, dazzling, compassionate musical “Kinky Boots”, running September 10-26. LT’s Chuck Rogers directs the production, and joined us live in the studio on KSMU “Arts News.”                                                               

“I feel like we should have opened a month ago, with all the time we've been putting into it!,” Rogers said. “We were originally going to do the show in June of 2019? Or 2020 maybe. It seems like five years ago!  And then due to the pandemic, we decided, well, we'll just postpone it to September of 2020.” The hope, of course, was that the pandemic would have run its course by then. “So then we got to 2020 and we're like, nope, that's not going to happen. Yeah. So then we said, well, let's just put it off for a year. Well, over the last 15, 18 months, the show has gone from simple little Springfield Little Theatre June (season) closer, to this mega musical that is going to knock your boots off.”

Which is the whole point of “Kinky Boots,” a story about, as Chuck Rogers told us, “two people that meet and through their their love of a shoe, and their love of how a shoe is designed and made, they celebrate diversity. They celebrate differences of opinions. They celebrate life. They celebrate. Be all that you can be and learn to love. It’s is one of those terrific, ‘feel-good’musicals. Just a big old, heartfelt Broadway musical that has some great tunes and a wonderful story.”

And lots of sparkles and stilettos.

Speaking of stilettos and other footwear, Chuck Rogers noted the Little Theatre costume department has 162 pairs of boots and shoes, all of which have been hand-embellished and hand-painted. The show uses something like 200 costumes. In fact, said Rogers,” the character of Lola, who is the leading character in the show, is a drag performer in the show. And that actor alone has five wigs and 11 costume changes! So much so, that we have just created him a little dressing room backstage so that he could just run off, change clothes real quick.” The actor, Brandon Looney, has three assistants helping him with all the rapid costume changes. “It’s crazy!”

“Lola,” the drag entertainer, has an exciting idea for Charlie, who was a shoe factory owner struggling to save the family business. Charlie’s father, who owned the shoe factory, has died unexpectedly and left the business to his son. “And it’s basically going bankrupt,” said Chuck Rogers. “So Charlie's looking for a way to save the factory, to save the workers that work there.  When Charlie accidently meets “Lola” in a bar, they decide they’re going to create a boot that will be able to securely hold up a man who is acting as a female impersonator/drag performer. “So the two of them join forces and figure out how to do it.”

Speaking of joining forces, this show features 16 original songs by Cyndi Lauper, and a book is by Harvey Fierstein. “It’s true Cyndi Lauper, too,” according to Rogers. “If you're a Cyndi Lauper fan, you're going to be singing all of these songs as you go out of the theater—it’s incredible music. And, of course, Harvey Fierstein is a brilliant author and performer in his own right. Jerry Mitchell, who directed the original production on Broadway, is a phenomenal director, just really understands human nature and all that.”

Filling all those boots and costumes in Springfield Little Theatre’s “Kinky Boots” production is a cast of 31.  Chuck Rogers suggested that going big for this season opener was a goal for the company. “I think that our goal was to come out of this situation that we've all been in for the last 15 months, and show Springfield that we are bigger and better than ever—

and that we have not been sitting on our heels. We have gotten back into it full swing. The scenery is massive. The costume budget is massive. The boot budget, the wigs, the everything. It's it's just going to be a fun entertainment for you to come see and get out of your house. But wear your mask!”

Masks won’t be mandatory at the Landers, but Little Theatre does recommend that patrons mask up.  While going back to what Chuck Rogers described as “our normal reserved seating” (i.e. no social distancing), “we're doing all of the sanitation procedures and we're encouraging vaccinations. We're encouraging mask wearing. Our cast is 99 percent vaccinated. So that’s amazing. And we all know that Springfield Little Theatre in our community is such a family. And you protect your family—you may like like it all the time, you may not agree with the rules. But just follow them and we'll all have a great time.”

Rogers mentioned that the production boasts “a great cast.” Brandon Looney, who plays “Lola,” is an SLT veteran who first started in the company as a young boy. “About 10 years ago, he moved to New York and he is making a very solid name for himself up in the big city. And he has graciously volunteered his time to come back and do the role of Lola in ‘Kinky Boots.’” Looney’s co-star playing shoe-factory owner Charlie is Eli Dipriest. “All of our audiences know Eli,” said Chuck Rogers, “last seen in ‘All Shook Up’ a couple of years ago. And the two of them together are the most dynamic couple you will see in Springfield for the next month.”

Not only should LT patrons be able to sit elbow-to-elbow again to watch “Kinky Boots,” but Chuck Rogers said he fully expects audience members to do “a lot of standing and clapping! I saw the original production in previews in Chicago, and I’m sitting on first or second row of the balcony.  And the finale of the first act literally gets you on your feet, clapping and cheering. I don't know how many of your listeners are familiar with the main gimmick that's in ‘Kinky Boots’ scenically, and that is they dance on conveyor belts. We have been working on our version of these conveyor belts for about a year and a half. And we are so close. We've got ‘em working. We're still playing around with the speeds a little bit. But it's going to be exciting, I think, when audiences see what we can pull off.” Josh Inmon, recently named Assistant Director at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, choreographed “Kinky Boots” for Springfield Little Theatre. “Josh has done great,” said “Kinky Boots” director Chuck Rogers. “We have some options and some different procedures in case something didn't work or whatever--he's got terrific plans in mind in case something doesn't work. It's smartly thought out.”

Springfield Little Theatre’s season opener, “Kinky Boots,” opens Friday September 10th at 7:30pm at the Landers Theatre. Following the first weekend, the production will run a Thursday-through-Saturday schedule of performances at 7:30pm, with Sunday matinees at 2:00pm, through September 26. Tickets range from $26 to $34.  Call the Landers box office at (417) 869-1334, or visit https://www.springfieldlittletheatre.org for season and individual ticket information.

Though LT’s website calls “Kinky Boots” a “PG-13”-rated show, Chuck Rogers assured us that there’s not really anything in it right at PG. It’s really ‘G.” If you feel comfortable watching TV, you’ll feel comfortable watching this show for sure.”