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Kinky Boots kicks again

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Theater Review
Kinky Boots
Presented by Atlantis Productions
Directed by Bobby Garcia
March 16, 8 p.m.,
March 17 and 18, 2 and 8 p.m.
Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium,
RCBC Plaza, Ayala cor. Pedro Gil Aves., Makati City

By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman,
Reporter

THOSE who already saw Kinky Boots last July are lucky to have the opportunity see it again thanks to the ongoing rerun at RCBC’s Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium. But those who are seeing it for the first time just as lucky as Kinky Boots is kinkier the second time around. Encores, after all, can only get better than the original runs for obvious reasons, for instance, the song and dance numbers are more polished — not that they weren’t good the first time ’round. The punch lines are better told. The lines are delivered smoother.

Speaking to the press some weeks before the rerun opened on March 2, Nyoy Volante, who plays one of the leads, the drag queen Lola, said he’d “up his game” and make the comedy punchier. And he did.

I was not able to watch the first run in July, but true to what the critics said then, Mr. Volante is good. He is flawless, literally (no armpit hair!), and figuratively. His performance gives justice to Lola, a boxer before he becomes a flamboyant drag queen and the brains behind the revival of a dying shoe factory. Lola’s jokes crack up the audience not because the humor comes at the expense of the LGBTQ community, but because of Lola’s wit, execution, and perfect timing.

Mr. Volante has done impersonations before on television. But in Kinky Boots, he does more than copying; he uplifts Lola’s character. While it is unfortunate that we live in a society where prejudice and stereotypes still exist, Mr. Volante’s Lola enlightens without preaching to the audience about what it means to be a “real” man.

A pop singer who started his career in the early 2000s, Mr. Volante displays on stage his ability to shift from one song to another. In one scene, he sings and dances — in six-inch heels — one of the musical’s Cyndi Lauper penned-songs, “Sex is in the Heels,” while in another, he powers it up and goes on a full diva mode in the heartfelt “Hold Me In Your Heart.”

A famed American singer and LGBT rights activist, Ms. Lauper wrote the play’s music and lyrics.

Volante is supported by another crowd favorite — Lola’s Angels, a group of showstopping groovy drag queens who can do mid-air splits and body-bending acrobatics. The Angels — Gerhard Krysstopher, Mark Pineda, Ritz Beltran, Jorge Jahnke, Michael Jahnke, and Jazztin Cacayan — are members of the dance group G-Force, hence their energetic, spotless, and lively dance numbers. One of the highlights of the show has the whole cast dancing on treadmills while singing.

Mr. Volante’s real life wife, theater actress Mikkie Bradshaw, replaces the first run’s Yannah Laurel as one of the shoe factory employees who has a crush on her boss, Charlie. Her solo number, “The History of Wrong Guys,” showcases her comedic timing, a few dance routines, and her singing skills. She is fun and funny to watch on stage; a goofball and a ball of energy.

Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price (played by Laurence Mossman) who inherits a shoe factory, which he does not like and know nothing about. But the business needs to stay afloat so when he — fortuitously — meets Lola, he asks him to be the shoe designer. As the two forges a friendship, together they follow their own dreams and discover who they want to be.

Wanting to pursue a singing career in Manila, Mr. Mossman moved to the country in 2015 and went on to join a vocal group called Primo. He made his theater debut in another Atlantis production, Fun Home in 2016. In Kinky Boots, his solo of “Soul of a Man” demonstrates that, like Charlie, he is on the right path in following his dreams and discovering who he really is meant to be.

Tickets are available at TicketWorld (www.ticketworld.com.ph).