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'Kinky Boots' making its LI premiere in Patchogue

Lukas Poost is Charlie and Terry LaVell is

Lukas Poost is Charlie and Terry LaVell is Lola in the Long Island premiere of "Kinky Boots" at Patchogue Theatre. Photo Credit: Jeff Bellante

When well-wishers bid good luck to cast members of Gateway's production of "Kinky Boots" at Patchogue Theatre, the risk that the actors might actually “break a leg” appears higher than usual.

“They thrill — and they wear heels,” exclaims Broadway choreographer Peggy Hickey of the sassy, stiletto-and-platform-shoe-sporting performers in the smash musical.

The show’s Long Island premiere is one of the first stagings of the popular Tony Award-winning spectacle written by Harvey Fierstein (book) and Cyndi Lauper (score) in the tristate area since it closed on Broadway in April. In fact, the snazzy footwear, costumes and wig designs are delivered direct from the Al Hirschfield Theatre, as is much of its factory-like set. 

That said, to close out its 70th season, the Gateway has added a few of its own accessories to the elevating tale about the unlikely alliance between Charlie Price, a struggling provincial shoemaker, and Lola, a scene-stealing drag queen who leads him to an untapped market — and perspective on life.

Besides incorporating authentic manufacturing equipment from an old workshop, director Larry Raben has also added a catwalk that juts into the audience on which the Angels (Lola’s backup girls) strut their stuff. “They want you to look at them and revel in their beauty and specialness,” says Hickey. “They are proud of their individuality and who they are.”

“It can be a tough journey,” says Terry Lavell, who plays the dynamic cross-dresser and admits to his own brushes with intolerance. As thrilled as he is to take on such a juicy role, the actor is quick to note that the show, inspired by true events, is less about his character than the straight-laced Charlie, played by Lukas Poost, and his emotional trajectory coming to terms with his own and others’ expectations.

Hickey agrees. “It is Charlie’s arc — that he is forced to change in the course of the show — that is relatable,” she notes.

The musical’s message of inclusivity certainly does not lack in its conveyance, with high-energy ensemble numbers like “Everybody Say Yeah” and the high glam “Land of Lola,” performed by the drag diva and chorus of cohorts. “Part of the magic of the story is how it relates masculinity in all its forms,” says Raben, “how toxic masculinity can change to confident but open-hearted masculinity. You can still be masculine and wear a frock.”

A surprising blend of razzle dazzle and truth, “Kinky Boots” is a polished reminder that changing your mind can be as easy and rewarding as, well, changing your shoes.

WHAT “Kinky Boots”

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Patchogue Theatre, 71 E. Main Street

INFO $59-$89; 631-286-1133, thegateway.org

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