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June 24, 2017

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Review:

‘Kinky Boots’ at Smith Center an emotional high with laughter, tears and joy

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Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Kinky Boots” at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

‘Kinky Boots’ at Smith Center

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It’s impossible not to laugh, cheer and jump for joy watching the smash-hit musical “Kinky Boots” in its national tour debut at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday. The show invades your body and soul, giving you an emotional high. It’s the exhilarating, exciting and enthusiastic winner of six Tony Awards that has everybody yelling “yeah” for the cast and creators.

”When we opened two years ago, one of our dreams was to launch a Broadway show, but we can’t believe that it’s happening so soon, and with the dream team of Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Mitchell,” Smith Center President Myron Martin told me at the premiere after-party Saturday night. “This is the happiest place in all of Las Vegas tonight.”

Celebrities and Las Vegas VIPs joined Broadway angel investors and a festive audience for the weekend’s official premiere of “Kinky Boots.” It has everything you could ever ask for in a dazzling, brash and successful night of brilliant theater:

A heartwarming, inspirational story; marvelous music and lyrics; fabulous performances; incredible choreography; and eye-popping, colorful costumes. Little wonder the beautiful crowd, with some men in high heels to match the cast, were applauding and screaming praise during the standing ovations as the curtain came down.

I thought the cast had as much fun entertaining the audience as the crowd did watching the spectacle. Joyous beyond belief, it is the most perfect night of entertainment and musical theater.

Our interviews last week with composer Cyndi, writer Harvey and director and choreographer Jerry told the story of a struggling shoe factory that on the verge of closing is saved by the outrageous boot designs of a drag queen named Lola and how she and the owner, Charlie Price, as an unlikely pair find that they have more in common than they thought and how when you change your mind about someone, you can help change your world for the better.

The message of accepting and being accepted came through clearly without heavy ladles to divert the fabulous fun of the show. It’s true that sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out!

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"Kinky Boots" at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

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Kyle Taylor Parker is Lola in "Kinky Boots" at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

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Steven Booth is shoe factory owner Charlie Price in "Kinky Boots" at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

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"Kinky Boots" at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

Jerry Lewis with wife Sandee, actors Adrian Zmed, Matthew Gray Gubler and Josh Strickland and actress Susan Anton were in attendance along with hotel kingpins Steve Wynn with wife Andrea and Rob Goldstein with wife Cheryl.

Jerry Mitchell, who won a Tony for his choreography in “Kinky Boots,” was there with producers Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig and my friends Phil and Lucy Suarez, who backed the show as Broadway angels and are partners with star-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the restaurant empire, including here at Bellagio and Aria. Harrah’s magician Mac King saw the show at its first Thursday preview and like everybody else “loved it.”

Jerry, who brought “Peepshow” to life at Planet Hollywood from 2009-2013, pulled off an amazing and incredible coup with his “Kinky Boots” direction and choreography. The two male leads, the totally talented Kyle Taylor Parker as Lola and former UNLV student, the gifted Steven Booth as Charlie, and Jerry deserve all the praise that’s heaped on them. Truly exceptional and accomplished stars!

Jerry told me: “It’s an amazing reaction here. All my family and friends who have seen it already on Broadway are flipping out because they can’t believe it’s as good or better than we had in New York. It’s different than Broadway because here the story has become much more intimate for the audience. You experience it with another point-of-view.

“I sat at the back of the house tonight, the last row, and I watched people have the same experience that they have in New York in the fifth row. When a musical or a story can do that, then you know you’ve got something special.”

Susan Anton laughed: “I want to wear those boots up there in that red dress on that stage and have that kind of fun. What a fabulous night! I wanna be Lola, my new hero!”

Myron told me: “Everybody loved it. I am very proud, very happy. All of these smiling faces, people had such a great time. Everybody is leaving smiling.”

Kyle was one of the original Angels, Lola’s group of drag queens, in the Broadway production and was chosen by Jerry to become the main New York understudy and then in the starring role for this national tour. His flamboyance and humor are powerful and endearing. His solo, “Hold Me in Your Heart,” will move you to tears, as it is so uncannily reminiscent of the late Whitney Houston.

“It’s such an emotional story, it drives you to give of your best with the message — and look what fun happens when you put on a dress and heels!” he exclaimed.

Steven, who was with fiancee Molly, attended UNLV and returned to Las Vegas in “Avenue Q” at the Wynn. “I never dreamed I’d one day be playing the Smith Center in boots,” he told me. “This is an amazing theater — it’s really something else. To start a first national tour from here is wonderful, and the response from our Las Vegas audiences has been overwhelming.

“Every audience we’ve had has fully embraced us. I think it’s the perfect spot to kick off this tour.”

I refer back to our three stories last week. Harvey was absolutely true when he guaranteed that audiences would float out of the theater with happiness after watching the show. Cyndi, who won a Tony for the score, the first woman in the 67-year history of the awards, was right on target when she said that she’d created the music and lyrics for people to remember and play again when they got home.

And Jerry promised that Las Vegas would be very proud of the show here, adding, “It’s a joyous, fabulous celebration of life and acceptance.”

There’s no question about that. “Kinky Boots” is one giant hit show you must see, experience and feel — a truly perfect night of fabulous entertainment. I loved this show so much that I’ll see it a second time this week.

I just wish that it was staying here longer to spread its message and joy to everyone. “If it were to return, I think that it might be a good idea to come back during the 2016-2017 season. Next year might be possible, but skipping a season would probably be best for our patrons,” summed up Myron.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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