To Thine Own Self Be True

Roderick Cotton (L) and Billy Ferguson (R) star in ‘Kinky Boots’

After the sudden death of his father, Charlie Price reluctantly returns home to take over control of the family shoe factory only to learn that it’s on the verge of collapse.  A chance meeting with a drag queen named Lola inspires Charlie to create women’s style shoes and boots for men in an attempt to save the family business.  Will Kinky Boots be enough to save Price & Son?  Find out at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

The dominating theme of this story is acceptance.  Acceptance of others and acceptance of one’s self.  And it’s this theme that gives the show some needed heft because the actual story is a little thin on plot.  Harvey Fierstein’s script, based off the film script of Geoff Deane and Tim Firth, actually sets the table nicely.  But it fails to adequately wrap up the story of the factory as well as a subplot regarding Lola and her father. 

What it lacks in story is more than made up for in characterizations and a jamming score from Cyndi Lauper.  When you combine that with the little intangibles of a live performance, you get a fun-filled rocker of a night.

Stephen Santa has a grand directorial debut with this show.  Santa seized on the show’s key theme and made certain the scenes (and there’s a lot of them) that support that theme got the needed emotional muscle to sell them.  He cuts a great pace and led his actors to nuanced performances, even down to little character quirks.  His staging was impeccable and makes good use of space, especially the factory scenes where things are always hustling and bustling.

The ensemble always remained present in the scenes which adds that crucial element of reality to the show, but this particular production also has a plethora of character roles.  Some of the shining stars of the night are Jon Hickerson as the factory bully, Don, who thinks he knows what it means to be a real man, but gets his own little arc where he truly learns the meaning of the word.  Hannah Rembert is stuck up as Charlie’s snooty fiancée, Nicola.  Megan Kelly nails it as Lauren and really shines with her number, “The History of Wrong Guys”, where she had the audience roaring with her hot and bothered dance moves.

Billy Ferguson is a very worthy Charlie Price.  Charlie is a very aimless character at the show’s start.  Ferguson presents that well by not being very animated because Charlie simply isn’t that passionate about anything.  But as he finds his passion, Ferguson starts conjuring some real fire from his belly as Charlie becomes nearly obsessed with creating “kinky boots” and saving the factory.  Ferguson also has a wonderful tenor and knows how to emote through a song.  He hits some real home runs with the dramatic tunes, especially “I’m Not My Father’s Son” and “Soul of a Man”.

If you didn’t know Roderick Cotton before this show, you certainly won’t forget him afterwards.  Cotton owns the role of Lola/Simon.  In some ways, it’s almost like watching Jekyll and Hyde as Lola is Simon’s escape.  Lola is larger than life and happy and free.  But Simon is the pain and prison from which Lola wants to escape.  Cotton does marvelous work balancing the two sides of this coin.  As Lola, he is always theatrical, on, and feminine, even speaking in a higher pitch.  When he’s Simon, he’s more serious, professional, and masculine, lowering the timbre of his voice.  Watching Lola/Simon make peace with each other is one of the show’s most satisfying arcs.

And leave us not forget Cotton’s own formidable tenor which he uses to suit the emotional moment of any scene.  Cotton’s Lola comes out roaring with “The Land of Lola” and sizzles with a lusty energy in “Sex is In the Heel”.  But he can be equally serious such as splendid turns in “I’m Not My Father’s Son” and “Hold Me In Your Heart”.

Lindsay Pape’s costumes are almost their own characters in this show especially with the over the top performing clothes of Lola and her Angels (and, of course, Lola’s hip high, bright red kinky boots).  The factory employees are always dressed in white coats or aprons.  Charlie’s buttoned up dress shirt and tie reflect his wound up personality.  Jim Boggess and his orchestra do some superlative work with this score.  It’s not only played well, but you can hear the fun they’re having with it.  Michelle Garrity and Sheldon Ledbetter provide some very clever and fun choreography with highlights being “Everybody Say Yeah” and “The Most Beautiful Thing”.  Jim Othuse has designed a good warehouse for Price & Son with its brick exterior and fully functioning factory interior with other pieces of furniture and signs sliding in and out with ease for scene changes and these get a further boost from Andrew Morgan’s properties.  Aja Jackson’s lights enhance the moments and pack some emotional punches with “Charlie’s Sad Soliloquy” and “Hold Me In Your Heart”.

The preview night performance did need a little bit of time to get going.  There was some trouble with microphone volume at the beginning and the energy and animation was a little low to start, but once they got going and the volume issues were fixed, it was a really fun performance.  I also want to give the cast bonus points for not being distracted by some audience members whose etiquette left something to be desired at various points.

This show is going to be a real crowd pleaser especially when the intangible x factors are in place and running full steam.  It’s fun.  It’s got heart.  And it teaches an important message about acceptance and being true to one’s own self.

Kinky Boots runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through June 26. Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 402-553-0800, visiting www.omahaplayhouse.com, or at the box office.  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.

Photo provided by Robertson Photography

‘Kinky Boots’ to Bring Down Curtain on OCP’s Main Stage Season

Roderick Cotton and Billy Ferguson star in ‘Kinky Boots’


Omaha, NE– The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) production of Kinky Boots will open Friday, May 27, 2022. The show will run in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre through June 26 with performances Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are on sale now starting at $25 with prices varying by performance. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

Synopsis
Flashy, inspiring and downright fun, Kinky Boots is the heartwarming Broadway musical — and winner of six Tony Awards® — thrilling audiences around the world. Following the death of his father, Charlie Price reluctantly agrees to return to his hometown to take over the family’s failing shoe factory. Inspiration strikes when he meets Lola, an outspoken and unapologetic drag queen in need of a sturdy pair of exotic boots. The unlikely pair cobble a heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship told through dazzling choreography and the intoxicating music of Cyndi Lauper.

Directed by: Stephen Santa

Cast

Billy Ferguson as Charlie Price
Roderick Cotton as Lola/Simon
Megan Kelly as Lauren
Hannah Rembert as Nicola
Jonathan Hickerson as Don
Lauren Johnson as Pat
Sarah Ebke as Trish
Seth Maisel as George
Jack Portis as Young Charlie
Courtney Jackson as Young Lola/Simon

Featuring: Matt Bailey, Brendan Brown, Brock McCullough, Kevin Olsen, Mary Kay Desjardins, Brandon Fisher, Jeff Garst, Noah Jeffrey, Will Kottcamp, Megan Morrissey, Carrie Beth Stickrod, Cullen Wiley

Omaha Playhouse Announces 96th Season

Omaha, NE.–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) has announced the titles to be produced during their 96th season, which will run from August 2020 through June 2021. Subscriptions for OCP’s 2020/21 season are now available for purchase through the OCP Box Office at 6915 Cass Street, Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at OmahaPlayhouse.com.

OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE 2020/21 SEASON PRODUCTIONS

*Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra

Aug. 7–16, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Steve Gomez | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra is a high-energy concert experience packed with rock ‘n’ roll mega hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Led by international touring artist Billy McGuigan and backed by the 14-piece Pop Rock Orchestra, these all-star musicians serve up fresh, original arrangements covering everything from the Beach Boys to Billy Joel, and everything in between.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Clybourne Park

Aug. 21–Sept. 20, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Bruce Norris

Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning comedy Clybourne Park serves as prequel and sequel to A Raisin in the Sun. A 1950s couple faces sharp backlash from neighbors for selling their home in the all-white Clybourne Park to a black family. Fifty years later, a white couple attempts to purchase the same home in the now predominantly black neighborhood, igniting fears of gentrification.

Disclaimer: Contains adult language and themes of racial tension.

Kinky Boots

Sept. 25–Oct. 25, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Book by Harvey Fierstein | Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper

Original Broadway Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots

Written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth

Flashy, inspiring and downright fun, Kinky Boots is the Tony Award®-winning musical warming hearts around the world. After returning to his hometown to manage his late father’s failing shoe factory, Charlie meets Lola, an outspoken and unapologetic drag queen in need of a sturdy pair of exotic boots. Together, the unlikely pair cobble a heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship.

Orchestra Sponsor: Woodmen Life

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Water by the Spoonful

Oct. 16–Nov. 8, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

By Quiara Alegría Hudes

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Water by the Spoonful follows Elliott, an Iraq war vet struggling to care for his dying aunt, and Odessa, a recovering drug addict fighting to stay sober with the support of her online companions. When their two worlds unexpectedly collide, everyone’s progress comes crashing down in this thought-provoking and beautifully human tale.

Disclaimer: Contains adult themes and language.

Presenting Sponsor: Conagra Brands Foundation

*A Christmas Carol

Nov. 20–Dec. 23, 2020

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Written by Charles Dickens | Adapted by Charles Jones

Musical Orchestration by John J. Bennett

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol! Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with stunning Victorian costumes, festive music and crisp, wintry sets, A Christmas Carol is a beautiful reminder that love and generosity are the heart of the Christmas holiday.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Presenting Sponsor: First National Bank

Artistic Team Sponsor: Omaha Steaks

Orchestra Sponsor: KPMG

Bakery Shoppe/Special Effects Sponsor: Rotella’s Bakery

*Yesterday and Today:  An Interactive Beatles Experience

Nov. 27–Dec. 31, 2020

Howard Drew Theatre

Featuring Billy McGuigan | Music Director Matthew McGuigan | ©2007 by Rave On Productions

Cap off 2020 with a shot of Beatlemania! Yesterday and Today is the smash hit, all-request Beatles show controlled by the audience. Share your favorite stories and relive your fondest memories with the songs that defined a generation. With no two shows the same, fans will be dancing in the aisles and singing along to all their favorite hits.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

The Miracle Worker

Jan. 15–Feb. 7, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

By William Gibson

The Miracle Worker is the incredible true story of Helen Keller, deaf and blind since age one, and the extraordinary woman who changed her life. Unable to communicate with their daughter, the Keller family enlists the help of Annie Sullivan, a woman determined to rescue Helen from the dark, tortured silence imprisoning her mind. A story that has inspired audiences for generations.

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

The Scottsboro Boys

Feb. 12–March 14, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

Music and Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book by David Thompson

Original Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman

The Scottsboro Boys follows the wrongful conviction of nine black teenagers in Scottsboro, Alabama in the 1930s—an infamous case that helped ignite the modern civil rights movement. From the composers of Chicago and Cabaret, this 12-time Tony® Award nominee alternates toe-tapping musical numbers with heart-wrenching ballads to tell a harrowing tale of bravery and strength in the face of great adversity.

Disclaimer: Contains themes and language related to racial tension.

In the Heights

Feb. 26–March 21, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Before there was Hamilton, there was In the Heights. From the revolutionary musical mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this Tony® Award-winning musical recounts three days in the vibrant Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, NYC, where the Spanish-speaking residents chase American dreams. This bubbly fusion of rap, salsa, Latin pop and soul music boasts an infectious enthusiasm from beginning to end.

Presenting Sponsor: Heider Family Foundation

Producing Partner: Physicians Mutual

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

*THE CANDY PROJECT PRESENTS:

Gutenberg!  The Musical!

March 18–21, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By Anthony King and Scott Brown

Starring Steve Krambeck and Dan Chevalier

Join The Candy Project, friends of OCP, for a special presentation of Gutenberg! The Musical! A pair of aspiring playwrights audition their newest work—a big, splashy musical about the inventor of the printing press—for an audience of potential investors. This two-man musical spoof offers an unending supply of enthusiasm and laughs.

*Special Event—Not part of the regular season series.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

April 16–May 9, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig

A thrilling whodunit set aboard the world’s most famous luxury locomotive, Murder on the Orient Express will keep you guessing until the very end. When the Orient Express becomes stranded by a snow storm, a passenger is found stabbed to death in his private room. With the murderer still on board, a detective must solve the crime before the train reaches its destination.

Producing Partner: UNMC

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities

Outside Mullingar

May 7–30, 2021

Howard Drew Theatre

By John Patrick Shanley

This charming romantic comedy follows Anthony and Rosemary, two introverts who grew up on neighboring farms in rural Ireland. Rosemary secretly fell in love with Anthony at age six, but after a bought with heartbreak, Anthony swore off women forever. The now middle-aged pair must overcome their own aloofness—as well as a family property dispute—to find their way to one another.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

May 28–June 27, 2021

Hawks Mainstage Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Adapted for the Stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald

Based on the Book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Oompa-Loompa-Doom-Pa-Dee-Doo! We’ve got a family favorite for you! Grab your golden ticket as Willy Wonka takes your family on a whimsical tour of the chocolate factory—with Charlie Bucket, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and all of your favorite characters. Featuring songs from the hit film, Willy Wonka will open up a world of pure imagination.

Presenting Sponsor: Mutual of Omaha

Orchestra Sponsor: Kiewit

Hawks Series Sponsor: Immanuel Communities