Thursday, March 19, 2015

Theater reviews: Kinky Boots, Peter Pan, more

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 2:48 PM

So you just found out that Kinky Boots is totally sold-out but your craving for comedy continues. What to do? Head on over to Knight Theater where Charlotte Ballet’s production of strong>Peter Pan is more hilarious than ever. All the new trimmings added to Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s zany scenario and choreography, by set designer Howard Jones and costumer A. Christina Giannini, remain intact. But the ace dancers who have performed their roles before are more comfy than ever in their zaniness, and the new Peter, Jordan Leeper (alternating with Josh Hall), is the essence of innocent conceit and impishness.

Charlotte Ballets Peter Pan. Photo by Peter Zay.
  • Charlotte Ballet's Peter Pan. Photo by Peter Zay.

Sarah Hayes Harkins was jazzier, cattier, and funnier than I’ve ever seen her as Tinker Bell, and Addul Manzano is even more outrageous as Captain Hook. Dipping shamelessly into the catalog of Rossini opera overtures, Warner Brothers’ soundtrack for mountains of Looney Toons confections, Bonnefoux consistently goes for the funnybone, bypassing such episodes as Wendy getting shot with an arrow or Tinker Bell drinking Peter’s poison.

No, in the grand “William Tell Overture” finale, Hook’s pirate band dances with Tiger Lily’s tribe, and the wicked Captain appears to be betrothed to the Croc — the ultimate in happily-ever-after madness, with Rickey Flagg shaking some mean tail in his wacky Croc outfit. Over all this effervescence, 74 minutes plus intermission, you can guess what the Darlings — Jamie Lee Clifton as Wendy, Ben Youngstone as John, and Clay Houston as Michael — were doing with the jubilant Leeper. Flying, of course!

If you were cruelly barred from this week’s invasion of the Kinky Boots tour due to the overwhelming ticket demand, rest assured that you need to pounce on the opportunity to catch the return engagement on December 29 to January 3. Production levels are very much on a par, in the big scenes, with the original Broadway production my wife Sue and I saw shortly after it won the Tony Award for best musical in 2013. Some of the briefer connecting scenes aren’t quite so technically polished, and the songlist seems to have reverted to the Chicago tryout run of 2012.

Kinky Boots at Belk Theater. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
  • Kinky Boots at Belk Theater. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Charlie Price, the Northampton heir who takes over his father’s failing shoe factory, is the hero of Harvey Fierstein’s adaptation of the 2005 film. He dares to risk all and steer the reputable maker of sturdy shoes into the untapped — and untested — market for flashy drag queen footwear. He’s a pretty generic protagonist, needing to grow up, man up, and figure out his priorities; and Steven Booth is every bit as wholesome, flawed, and everymanish as Stark Sands was on Broadway, where he was upstaged in scene after scene on his way to a Tony nomination.

Luckily, Charlie’s brilliance is inspired by Lola, nee Simon, a fellow Northamptoner that our hero encounters backstage at a decadent London nightclub, putting on his flashy — but shoddy — drag queen boots as he gets ready to perform. Billy Porter as Lola took this show by the throat as soon as he and his backup Angels took that stage and stamped it as the “Land of Lola.” Porter pretty much engraved his name on the best leading actor Tony Award with that song and the splendiferous “Sex Is in the Heel” when he and the Angels sashayed into the Price & Son factory later in Act 1.

You see, Charlie needs Lola to design his pioneering boots. The drab burgundy prototype Charlie creates makes that abundantly clear. J. Harrison Ghee isn’t quite the megawatt diva Porter was from the get-go, but he certainly galvanized the Charlotte crowd when Lola descended the factory steps and sang on opening night. You can actually argue that Ghee is a more believable Lola because he’s not such a commanding diva performing in a dive, and I certainly had less difficulty believing that Lola had self-doubts when he reported to work in man’s clothes.

I didn’t need such argumentation to like Lindsey Nicole Chambers as Lauren, the shoe factory worker who gives Charlie the bright idea to aim for a niche market. Falling for Charlie as he promotes her to executive status, I thought she was even more comical than her Broadway counterpart singing “The History of Wrong Guys,” easily the most lovably Lauper-ish song in Cyndi Lauper’s score. Grace Stockdale as Charlie’s career-driven fiancée and Joe Coots as the most hostile factory worker are also ready for the bright lights of the Big Apple.

At intermission, as this top-tier touring production was still working up to its full head of steam, people were walking up to me and asking what I thought. By the end of the sleeker, more emotional and inspirational Act 2, they didn’t have to.

As the big names kept piling onto the lineup for the 13th annual edition of the Savannah Music Festival, one question became more and more vivid for me: what billionaire did they get to sponsor this shindig?
Folk, rock, jazz, blues, bluegrass, Latin, zydeco, Texas swing, country, and world music are all superbly represented in SMF’s eclectic mix. Set a spell and you get to know Savannah just by following the festival as it plays out, now through April 4, at eleven different venues across the city, ranging from the cavernous Johnny Mercer Theatre to the intimate Temple Mikve Israel.

Classical offerings are particularly transcendent in 2015 compared with previous editions. Superstar violinist Daniel Hope, the festival’s classical music director, still anchors the superb chamber music programming — 10 different programs spread across the 17-day revelries. But this year, we also get recitals from the likes of Stephen Hough (March 27), Murray Perahia (March 28), Lynn Harrell with the Atlanta Symphony (March 28), the Emerson String Quartet (March 29), and Paul Lewis (April 1). On top of this cluster of virtuosos, SMF is venturing into opera for the first time with Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi (the latter two-thirds of Il Trittico), starring Verónica Villarroel and Mark Delavan in the title roles (March 20).

Jazz, curated by the amazing Marcus Roberts, tends to be more American and less European than the Spoleto Festival USA lineup. Headliners include Dave Stryker (March 24), Warren Vaché (March 25-26), the Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet (March 25), Warren Wolf and Wolfpack (March 26), Wycliffe Gordon (March 27), Roberts (March 28), and Julian Lage (March 30). Bridging the two festivals is Grammy Award-winning empress Dianne Reeves (April 3).

Complete scheduling and ticketing information is available at the wondrous SMF website, which features a fabulous library of past concerts under its Radio tab.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2017 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation