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posted: 9/28/2012 6:00 AM

'Kinky Boots' next in quirky British genre

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  • A group of unemployed and average guys put on a Chippendales-style strip show in the 2000 Broadway musical "The Full Monty," an adaptation of the 1997 British film of the same name. Pictured here are the leading men in the 2008 production staged by the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

      A group of unemployed and average guys put on a Chippendales-style strip show in the 2000 Broadway musical "The Full Monty," an adaptation of the 1997 British film of the same name. Pictured here are the leading men in the 2008 production staged by the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

 
 

For the past 15 years, a certain kind of British film has helped inspire a few big Broadway and London theatrical adaptations. The films all have this basic premise: A down-and-out individual or group (typically Northern English) becomes inspired by an out-of-the-way idea that brings about a change for a vital moment (or in some cases, a lifetime) of success. The 2005 British film "Kinky Boots" is the latest film to inspire a Broadway or West End show, but let's look at a few of its predecessors:

"The Full Monty" was the little 1997 independent film that generated loads of publicity and even snagged four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Set in Sheffield, England, it tells the story of six unemployed men (mostly laid-off and out-of-shape steelworkers) who come up with the idea that they could raise some much-needed cash by performing as male strippers with the novelty of being average guys instead of buffed-up Chippendales-style dancers. "The Full Monty" was then adapted as a Broadway musical in 2000, featuring an eclectic pop score by David Yazbeck and a script by Terrence McNally that shifted the action to Buffalo, N.Y. "Kinky Boots" director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell was brought in to choreograph "The Full Monty," likely due to his showbiz stripping expertise as the founder of the annual burlesque show "Broadway Bares," which has raised more than $5.5 million since it was founded for the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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"Billy Elliot"was a 2000 film set in Northern England amid the vicious and drawn-out standoff between striking coal miners and the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Amid this contentious backdrop, the film's title young lad discovers his love and newly discovered skills for dancing ballet. It was pop star Elton John who spearheaded the idea of transforming "Billy Elliot" into a stage musical that debuted in London in 2005 and later on Broadway in 2008, where it won a total of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

"Calendar Girls" was a 2003 film based upon the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who shun the typical bake sales and come up with idea of creating a nude calendar of themselves (with certain bits discretely covered) in order to raise funds for Leukemia research. Screenwriter Tim Firth adapted his original script into a stage play that made its West End debut in London in 2008 following an extensive U.K. tour.

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