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Everybody say Yeah to Kinky Boots (Review – Croswell Opera House) September 19, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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Guest review by Patty Mazzola. Photo courtesy Croswell Opera House.

If you haven’t yet purchased tickets for “Kinky Boots,” at The Croswell Opera House, September 16th-25th, what are you waiting for? With a book by Tony-winner Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Tony- and Grammy-winner Cyndi Lauper, the show hits all the right notes and so does the local production team and cast. Go see it!

Based on the 2005 British film of the same name, the story follows Charlie Price, a simpleton, who having begrudgingly inherited his father’s failing shoe factory, finds his true self through an unlikely partnership with a drag queen. The factory–and essentially the entire small town–go from unstable to unstoppable in their fight to keep food on the table and shoes, er boots, on their feet. The factory goes from being in the red to seeing red to embracing red in all its kinky glory.

I have no other KB production to compare this one to, but I’m very pleased my first experience was at the Croswell. Those who have seen a previous production already knew what a joyful experience it would be; you could feel the electricity in the audience even before the curtain went up. The entire cast was so fully invested in their characters, including British accents, that I was somewhat transported. Director/Choreographer Debra Ross Calabrese, Conductor Adam P. Miller and the entire creative team presented a tight production; every note, entrance, step, and look had meaning, from the beautiful opening harmonies to the final exuberant number. Scenic Designer Doug Miller created a [dare I say] “soleful” factory set with so much depth that, along with the lighting (designed by Crosby Slupe) and the detailed set dressing, the audience could feel the importance and weight the factory carries in the townsfolk livelihood. Then the factory transforms into a glittering stage show in seconds, with a colorful boost from Costume Designer Tallie Carter.

There is no question about the talents of seasoned performers Leonard Harris (Lola/Simon) and Dan Clair (Charlie) whose touching duet, “I’m Not My Father’s Son,” is tragically beautiful. Dara Pardon (Lauren) is fantastic as another character you find yourself rooting for. In fact, the whole supporting cast, including Lauren Goyer (Nicola), Ron Baumanis (George), Wesley Grudzien (Harry), Taylor Goodin (Trish), Rachel Ogger(Pat), Phil Skeldon (Mr. Price), Thomas J. Koch II (Don) and Byron Taulton (Simon Sr.) each have their moments to shine. Young Lola and Charlie (Trae Wesson and Alex Coumoundouros respectively) will surprise you with their mature performances and agility. Jarrod Alexander, Mikey Del Vecchio, Domonique Glover and Skye Rodriguez are so spectacular as the Angels. Take me to the Land of Lola, anytime, anywhere.

This show will absolutely raise you up. And who doesn’t need a lift these days? I highly recommend this production. Everybody Say Yeah!

Kinky Boots continues at Croswell Opera House through September 25th – croswell.org

“Medieval” is a violent but fascinating film September 6, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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Medieval (called Jan Źiźka internationally) arrives in time to salvage an early September weekend with original programming. Set in the early days of Czech Bohemian hero Jan Źiźka’s formative mercenary years, it’s a story most Americans are not at all familiar with.

In the early 1400’s the Catholic Church is in such disarray that there are two popes…one in Italy and one in France. In order to install a new King, the Holy Roman Empire needs the blessing of the Italian Pope. Źiźka and his men are paid to protect King Wenceslas on his journey, but things fall apart right from the getgo. See, there’s another King who also wants to be crowned by the Pope. What follows is an origin story for Źiźka based on familial revenge, a kidnapped lady in waiting, and shifting allegiances in the very volatile Bohemian world.

Źiźka was known for innovative “modern” warfare techniques and these are on full display here in bone-crunching, smoke-filled, violent sequences not for the squeamish. But there is more at play here. The film beautifully illustrates the horrors of war not when hoards of thousands skirmish with opposing hoards of thousands…but rather how battles are won a few dozen warriors at a time. It’s intimate and dangerous and ultimately grisly and violent.

The cast is uniformly solid with particularly good performances by Michael Caine and Matthew Goode. Sophie Lowe holds her own against the ridiculous men around her, and Ben Foster brings his serious sense of acting to his leading role.

Medieval is the most expensive Czech film ever made, although it was only bankrolled with an English speaking cast. So there is that.

I left highly satisfied, even if the final act gets a bit Shakespearean by its conclusion. Not recommended for those who have light stomachs for grim, bloody, decapitating violence, but if you stick with this, I think you will also feel fulfilled by this captivating tale. And it will probably send you to Google these people, some real, some added for the story.
Recommended. Opens Sept 9th nationwide and overseas.