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Falling head over heels

A modern classic of the musical theatre genre, Kinky Boots has charmed audiences around the world with its scintillating soundtrack, dazzling dance numbers and a magnanimous message of acceptance.

Choreographer and associate director for Free-Rain’s upcoming production of Kinky Boots at The Q, Michelle Heine tells Canberra Weekly the hilariously uplifting play is “the whole package”.

“Everyone will go away with both a spring in their step and a smile on their face … We want everyone to come along and just enjoy the incredible story and the beautiful cast and talent we have here in Canberra,” she says.

Telling the story of a struggling British shoe factory, Price & Son, Kinky Boots sees its young, straight-laced owner, Charlie, form an unlikely partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to revolutionise and save his business by tapping the niche market of high-heeled boots for drag performers.

Renowned for her choreography work, this production is Heine’s first time working as an associate director.

She says it’s been a fantastic experience for her to be taking a multifaceted approach with Kinky Boots, contributing towards the acting and music alongside the choreography.

Kinky Boots conveys a message about acceptance and open-mindedness that’s as relevant, if not more so today, than when the original film was released in 2005. Photo: Janelle McMenamin.

“I’m really helping with everything – from lighting, to set design, costuming, props and maintenance.

“Derek Walker is our director, and I am basically shadowing him and learning from him.

“I’m looking at it from all angles, which is very exciting. It’s also a big challenge because it’s not something I’ve done before.

“Usually I only do the choreography, but now I feel like I have a little bit more say,” Heine says.

At the time of speaking to Canberra Weekly, the cast and crew were 11 weeks into rehearsals and, according to Heine, had already ironed out many of the “kinks”.

A logistical issue for Heine is the fact she’s working her magic on a team of men dancing in heels.

This presents unique challenges for the choreography as she’s dealing with seven men performing as drag queens.

“It adds a whole new dimension to my role as choreographer … Some of them are not used to working in heels obviously,” she smiles.

“I’m quite tough, so I’m expecting a good level of dance from them, and also they’ve got to have their own way of putting their character into the production.

“There’s the structure, but I’m asking them to bring their own character out to the forefront, too.

Heine says Kinky Boots contains a great message about acceptance and open-mindedness that’s as relevant, if not more so today, than when the original film – a British comedy-drama based on a true story – was released in 2005.

“It’s just showing that we all need to accept each other for what we are, we’re all different and that’s what makes the world so beautiful.

“We have got everybody who’s adding their own little touch to the character of our country or the world.

“At the end of the day, the storyline is one that they all accept each other eventually. There are a couple of lines in the show where it’s very relevant of the need to accept and open up to change,” she says.

Free-Rain Theatre’s production of Kinky Boots will be performed at The Q, Queanbeyan, 9-28 July; theq.net.au

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