"iKinky Boots" is showing in the Al Hirschfield Theater in Manhattan. - Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com.au

When students sat in a long line on the Chamberlain Student Center floor, Rowan braced for the impact of theater kids, each vying for their chance to visit their version of paradise: the grimy streets of a tourist-tailored Manhattan.

Yes, it is that time of year again.

“Kinky Boots” was the musical selected as the Student University Programmers (SUP) off-campus Broadway trip for this semester. The trip commenced with a two-hour bus ride from the Chamberlain Student Center to the Al Hirschfeld Theater. Students who had purchased tickets for the event arrived in the city at 11 a.m. for the 2 pm. performance, and were given the chance to explore New York City on their own.

“Kinky Boots” follows Charlie Price, whose family has owned a Northampton shoe factory for generations. Though Charlie aspires to move to London to pursue a career in marketing, he inherits the factory, and all of its financial woes, upon his father’s death. Struggling to provide the factory’s employees with hours or income, Charlie pivots production from sensible loafers to products serving a more niche market: durable performance shoes for drag queens. Aided by the fashion design capabilities of Lola, a drag queen Charlie had met on his initial excursion to London, Price & Son transforms both the economy and minds of Northampton through song, dance and the embrace of gender fluidity.

According to sophomore physics major Courtney Johnson, seating for a Broadway musical and a bus into the city is well worth the $60 price tag. As for the musical itself, she believes that there stands some room for improvement.

“I think ‘Kinky Boots’ lost its way a little in the first act,” Johnson said. “It starts out good with exposition of the characters and the culture, but it later wastes time on random songs with characters you don’t connect with, and an excessive ending dance number. I get the need for a fun dance number, and they can be fun to watch, but there was no sense of accomplishment or joy to warrant the dance number and it went on too long. I honestly just wanted the first act to end. The second act was so much better – fun songs, good pace, funny moments [and] character development. And the ending dance number is earned and fun. I really enjoyed the second act.”

For many students, this trip offered a rare opportunity to participate in NYC theater culture. This was the case for sophomore international studies and philosophy double-major Gianna Hill, for whom this was her first time seeing a Broadway musical.

“It was truly magical,” Hill said. “The actors seemed larger than life and the music sounded practically prerecorded. It was beautiful. My favorite part of the day aside from the play was wandering the city. It was a perfect day for a southern Jersey girl like myself to explore one of the top-rated pizza places in the city, try Baked By Melissa and catch a glimpse of the NYC marathon.”

Exploring themes of acceptance, masculinity and family, “Kinky Boots” and its accouterments of six Tony Awards are well-seated within the canon of Broadway.

SUP’s next off-campus trip will be to Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, PA. Tickets are $15 and go on sale on Nov. 16.

For questions/comments about this story, email arts@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

 

 

 

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