Arvada Center showcases ‘Kinky Boots’ with sign language interpretation

Anitra Sailor, MSU Denver
Posted 4/22/22

A show inspired to open hearts and minds alike, “Kinky Boots” is a production with glamorous costume changes, engaging musical numbers as well as American Sign Language interpreters.

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Arvada Center showcases ‘Kinky Boots’ with sign language interpretation

Posted

A show inspired to open hearts and minds alike, “Kinky Boots” is a production with glamorous costume changes, engaging musical numbers as well as American Sign Language interpreters.

Set to the scene of Northampton, England, Charlie Price, played by actor Tim Howard, owns a struggling shoe factory and meets a cross-dresser named Lola, played by David Kaverman. Together they explore the worlds views on femineity and masculinity through shoemaking. 

Keep in mind that this production is a contemporary Broadway-style musical that contains adult themes and brief strong violence. 

To save Price’s family business, we are graced with musical numbers complete with high heels and the very definition of fabulous. 

Comprised of two acts, and a detailed set design, this is an eight-show week that will run until April 24.

I was also able to meet with American Sign Language interpreters Amy Pike, and Jaycee Branch. Pike was recommended the position by Branch, who was sure to let me know that “I was in for a treat” with this production. Branch also explained how ASL booking works through the Arvada Center. 

ASL Interpreters are given a script before the show and are also able to view the performance once before their interpretation begins. This way they can gather more information about how to best sign the performance in a way that honors the tone and emotion of the show. “When the actors do well, we do well,” Branch said. 

When speaking with Marcus Turner, head of the box office, about the utilization of ASL interpreters, it was explained to me that the Arvada Center has been using interpreters for over 15 years. 

“We have recently stepped up our efforts to create more opportunities for accessible performances in our theatre program. In the past, we have focused on providing ASL interpretation at one of our musical theatre productions, but we have now been able to offer for it multiple productions throughout our season, including a special performance of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm this season in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Deaf School,” Turner said. 

It should also be noted that the Deaf community seems to be responding favorably to the inclusivity.

“The Deaf community has responded well to having these

opportunities for having ASL interpretation at certain performances during our season. Our hope would be that we can further utilize community partnerships (like with the Rocky Mountain Deaf School) to reach more people and increase the reach of these services,” Turner said.”

As the ASL interpreters were met with praise, so was the performance delivered by Kaverman.

“They did an excellent job,” said Jane Ozaki, a theater attendee. “It was so well done, and we were very entertained by both the interpreters as well as Kavermans performance.” 

Kaverman said that this was his first live show since the pandemic began in 2020. He couldn’t be more thrilled to play a dream role such as Lola, even though it had been slightly challenging to get back into shape physically, vocally and mentally. 

Theater goers and ASL interpreters alike can attest that Kaverman understood the assignment. However,Kaverman had thoughts of his own regarding the interpreters.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “I’m only sad we didn’t acknowledge them at the end of the show. But I think it’s great to allow hearing impaired persons to see the show live. It’s usually never distracting to the performers. We have so many bright lights in our faces we can’t see to many things anyway. And really,it’s amazing how into the performance the interpreters get. I’ve been in many productions that use sign language interpreters, and it’s always great.” 

Another attendee, Stacey Bergman, said that she’s seen the production before elsewhere, however she was “really impressed for a small-town theater,” and “how well done it was. It was such a happy show, and right now, we need happy.”

For those who are hoping to catch a showing of Kinky Boots, be sure to come with proof of vaccination. Unfortunately, the only ASL showings were on April 2 and 7, but keep your calendars ready for future performances. 

“They have already booked for the play and the musical in the fall, as well as their holiday special, ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ They also have one for next Spring,” Branch said.

The nature of ASL inclusivity makes it so that it’s wise to book interpreters as early as possible to be prepared for the turnout of the Deaf community.  

If you are interested in attending a performance that has ASL interpreters, you will be able to find at least one performance each season at the Arvada Center that will accommodate you.

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