By MIKE CHAIKEN
The show is called “Kinky Boots.”
And said “kinky” footwear rises from the feet over the knees and about mid-thigh. The whole construction, and the person wearing it, is balanced on a thin, supportive stiletto heel.
In the stage musical written by Harvey Fierstein (“Torch Song Trilogy”) and Cyndi Lauper (“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”), the red boots are first worn by central character Lola and her Angels, drag queens at the center of the story about acceptance. But by the end of the show, the entire cast gets “kinky.”
Chris Kane, the dance captain of the touring production that struts into the Fox Theater on Foxwoods Resort Casino on May 31, said that for the dancers in the cast, the boots are an obstacle that must be – and is- overcome.
“You have to do it many times for many hours,” said Kane of the process of learning to walk, and dance, in the boots. He said the first time the dancers put on the boots, they are asked to wear them for an entire rehearsal, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The challenge of the “kinky boots” is that it changes one’s posture, said Kane.
“It puts your center of gravity in different place,” said Kane. “Your whole body has to readjust. The feet hurt (as you dance more and more).”
“But you get used to it.”
Kane said it’s all in the day’s work for dancers, who are often asked to step out of their comfort zone and perform different genres of dance for a show. He said that’s what they train for.
The dancers, however, are not the only ones who have to pull on the “kinky boots” for the musical. The entire cast has to wear them for the big finale of the show.
“It’s really interesting to see how people first reacted (to wearing them),” said Kane.
But as the actors get used to stylish gear, said Kane, “Everyone loves them.”
Kane, as a dancer and a dance captain for “Kinky Boots,” has been tasked with keeping true to the Tony Award-winning choreography of Jerry Mitchell.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Kane of dancing the steps created by Mitchell. “I’m beside myself and pinch myself when I think about it.”
As the tour’s dance captain, Kane said there is pressure on him to get Mitchell’s choreography right. “Every time I watch the show, I treat it as if Jerry was in the audience,” said Kane. He said he analyzes what he thinks Mitchell would have felt was done right. And Kane tries to figure out where Mitchell would have wanted improvement.
Although it’s cool to perform the choreography of Mitchell, Kane also said it’s especially cool to have the opportunity to teach master classes about the choreography as he travels the country.
Whether he is working with college students or dance school students, Kane said, “It’s wonderful to see no matter the skill level how well they respond (to Mitchell’s choreography).”
The show’s choreography allows the performers to let their characters shine through the dance moves, said Kane. But the challenge is making sure that it all still looks unified.
The choreography also finds the dancers performing with unforgiving inanimate objects at time.s The dance on the treadmills is always a favorite with audiences.
“You have to go with the treadmill,” said Kane. Unlike a fellow performer who might be able to improvise when another dancer makes a misstep, Kane said, “The treadmill isn’t going to give.”
At first, like the boots, some cast members face the treadmills with trepidation. But once the actors get used to the treadmill, said Kane, “It’s fun and exciting.”
Besides the opportunity to entertain audiences with dancing and music, Kane said he also appreciates the opportunity to take the message of “Kinky Boots” to the nation: the importance of accepting people for who they are.
“It’s amazing to take that (important) message and bring it to people who might not be able to get to New York (to see the Broadway production),” said Kane.
“Kinky Boots” comes to the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, June 1 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, June 2 at 1 and 7 p.m.
For more information, go to Foxwoods.com.