Kinky Boots Steps Into the Smithsonian National Collection

National Museum of American History Accepts Costume Artifacts
March 6, 2019
News Release

Callum Francis, Cyndi Lauper, and Andy Kelso

In a special ceremony March 5, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will receive a donation of costume items from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots. The musical tells the heartwarming story of ‘Charlie Price’ as he inherits his father’s failing shoe factory in Northampton, England, looking for a way to reenergize the business. An encounter with drag queen and cabaret performer ‘Lola’ inspires ‘Charlie’ to save the company from financial ruin by producing a flamboyant line of high-heeled boots for drag queens. Kinky Boots will donate the final costume worn by ‘Lola,’ including the iconic red boots that will be presented by producer Daryl Roth. The donation will mark the cultural impact and global reach of the production.

The donation also includes collectable memorabilia such as a Playbill and posters associated with the musical. Produced by Roth and Hal Luftig, Kinky Boots features a Tony Award-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein and direction and choreography by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell. The winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots is currently the 25th longest-running production in Broadway history. The musical continues playing on stages throughout the globe and is currently represented with the North American tour in its fifth year and Japanese productions returning this spring. Previous international productions include a West End production (winner of the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Musical), a U.K. and Ireland Tour, a German production Korean productions, and award-winning productions in Canada and Australia.

“We’re thrilled to be adding these iconic red boots to the nation’s entertainment collection, best known for another famous pair of red shoes from The Wizard of Oz.” said Anthea M. Hartig, Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the museum. “In the best Broadway tradition, Kinky Boots is a big-hearted show about self-discovery, acceptance and friendship with songs stick with you long after you leave the theater. It’s a declaration of diversity and love—universal themes that never grow old.”

“We are so honored that our beautiful red boots and the message of our show will be a highlighted part of the Smithsonian’s permanent culture collection, representing our themes of love and acceptance to visitors from all over the world,” said Roth said.

Kinky Boots is based on a British film written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. The Broadway production, which will play its final performance at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre Sunday, April 7, currently stars Callum Francis as ‘Lola,’ Andy Kelso as ‘Charlie’ and Carrie St. Louis as ‘Lauren.’

These Kinky Boots items join a rich collection of Broadway artifacts in the museum’s collection, including costumes from the Broadway productions of Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hello, Dolly!, A Chorus Line, Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, This Is the Army, Wicked, The Lion King and Cabaret; theater awards, including three Tony Awards; props from the off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks; and numerous Broadway playbills and posters.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the United States infinite rich history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more informed future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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