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THEATER

Kinky Boots: No business like ‘shoe business’

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published October 12, 2017 at 1:45 a.m.

Lance Bordelon, who plays the lead role of Charlie Price in the current national tour of Kinky Boots, shows off the title footwear.

Kinky Boots

7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St., Little Rock. Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein. Celebrity Attractions presents the Troika Entertainment national tour.

Season sponsors: KATV, the Doubletree Hotel

Tickets: $28-$77 (plus fees)

(501) 244-8800

ticketmaster.com; CelebrityAttractions.com

Lance Bordelon says Kinky Boots is only moderately kinky.

"The word 'kinky' comes with this idea of going in a different direction; it's not necessarily used in the show in an adult context," explains Bordelon, who plays the lead role of Charlie Price in Troika Entertainment's national tour of Kinky Boots.

The show will be onstage Friday-Sunday at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall, opening Celebrity Attractions' 2017-18 Broadway Season.

The hit Broadway musical won six 2013 Tony Awards, including best musical and best score for Cyndi Lauper's music and lyrics. The book is by Harvey Fierstein.

Charlie must give up his dreams of living in London when he suddenly inherits his father's bankrupt Northhampton, England, shoe factory, Price & Son. Trying to live up to his father's expectations and keep the business afloat, he finds a surprising way to turn the factory around: Lola (Jos N. Banks), a drag queen in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

"When people ask, 'Is it family-friendly?' I say, 'Absolutely,'" Bordelon adds. "The kinkiness comes in with Charlie and the factory and Lola all doing something a little bit counterintuitive to what has always been done. It's tongue-in-cheek; there's a lot of British humor.

"That's sort of the theme of the show as well: It's going into a space and challenging others as well to be comfortable with something maybe a little different, accepting people who are a little bit different from you.

"Overall, it's a joyfest, a fun machine; it's really heartfelt. You'll be laughing; if you're me, when I first saw it a couple of years ago on Broadway, I definitely cried. I was so wonderfully emotional; it was very cathartic."

Bordelon has just been on the road with the show for about a month. His eight-month contract will keep him touring until the middle of May.

It's not his first visit to Little Rock. In April, he and some other singer-actors came down from New York for a reading of The Gift of the Magi, a small-scale musical that will have its world premiere in December at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

"That was such a great experience," he says. "It's such a cool space and such a cool town. I'm from Louisiana originally, but I had never visited Little Rock before.

"I love working on new material, and it was exciting to work with the Rep and to see new theater being created."

Bordelon mostly uses his tenor voice to "primarily do pop-rock [repertoire]" -- he played Bobby C. on the national tour of Saturday Night Fever and his credits include the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Feuilly in Les Miserables. And Kinky Boots, of course, "is a rockin' time for sure," he says. "But it was great to work in more of a classical, more 'legit' style show, cool to work that side of my voice."

Putting together this most recent tour involved a comparatively short rehearsal process -- "including the tech process, we were up and running for five weeks," Bordelon says. In part that's because he and the rest of the cast were working with the creative team from the original Broadway show. (Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed.)

"There was no wasted time," he explains. "We were diving into the world of the show and not coming up for air, literally living in that world for a solid month." And, unlike most rehearsals for any show, "we actually got to play on the set from day one, to play in the playground on the first day.

"It takes place in the factory, so there are staircases, treadmills and the factory itself -- the office and all of the factory unit, and there's a great boxing unit."

The touring set, he explains, is the same as the Broadway one, "except our set doesn't have hard walls, just fly legs. So the tech is mostly just lighting, for the most part.

"Our floors travel with us as well. The floor is 'spiked' with everything on it; for the most part, it's pretty self-contained. It's a huge gift. I'm always on '16' or always on '8' -- I always know where my light is."

Weekend on 10/12/2017

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