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Kinky Boots Review – A Tony Award-Winning “Kick” Of a Show

By Marilyn Anderson & Dennis L Lanning

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Years ago, we went to a screening of a little British film and came out huge fans of this quirky sleeper that none of our friends had ever heard of! It was the true story of a small town shoe factory on the verge of going out of business and the young man who inherited it. He had planned on selling it, but instead ended it up saving it by some extraordinary measures.

We loved the original movie – so when we heard it was going to be a Broadway musical, we simply had to see it. We weren’t disappointed.  With a book by Harvey Fierstein and music & lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, the show grabs your heart and never lets go.

 

Cast of Kinky Boots

 

The story starts by introducing us to a young boy (Sebastian Hedges Thomas) and his father at their family shoe factory. Regrettably, when he grows up, Charlie (Stark Sands) doesn’t want to follow in his father’s shoesteps. Instead, he plans on moving to London with his fiancée (Celina Carvajal). When his father suddenly dies, he inherits the shoe company and learns they are going bankrupt.

 

Celina Carvajal and Stark Sands

 

One night in London, something occurs that will alter the course of his life. Charlie comes to the aid of a woman, who turns out to be a transvestite. Finding out that Lola (Billy Porter) and her fellow/sister transvestites wear women’s shoes that can’t support a man’s weight, Charlie comes up with the idea of fashioning a boot that will be sturdy enough for them. Lola then becomes the designer – and the factory’s new product line, “Kinky Boots” is born.

 

Charlie and Lola

 

Kinky Boots is a story about underdogs, about failing businesses, about love, acceptance, and reinvention. But above all, it is a heartfelt and joyous romp. The musical numbers are fantastic. Cyndi Lauper, making her Broadway debut composing the music & lyrics, has created songs that have the audience cheering (and her winning a Tony Award.)

 

Billy Porter, Analeigh Ashford, and Stark Sands

 

What woman can’t relate to songs about SHOES?!  “The Most Beautiful Thing” is a rousing number that takes place in the shoe factory. We get to see how traditional shoes are made… in a lively, creative way. The dancing during this song is especially inventive with the use of conveyor belts that factory workers trek, trundle, and twirl upon – it’s sheer fun. The choreography won a Tony Award for Jerry Mitchell, who also directed.

 

Another song about shoes is “Sex is in the Heel,” and we are treated to a chorus line of “trannies” in high-heels, dancing and kicking up a storm!  And speaking of women relating, “The History of Wrong Guys” sung by Annaleigh Ashford as Lauren is a wonderful number that both gals and guys will love.

 

Analeigh Ashford as Lauren

 

 

Everybody Say Yeah” is a marvelous production number and there are also soulful, meaningful ballads like “I’m Not My Father’s Son, “The Soul of a Man,” and “Hold Me in Your Heart.”

 

Billy Porter as Lola

 

 

In addition to the Tony Award-winning score and choreography, the show’s success belongs to the talented cast, and definitely to the Tony Award-winning Billy Porter as Lola.  Mr. Porter is a seasoned performer who has been singing and dancing in shows for 13 years. In Kinky Boots, he is absolutely knock-your-socks-off – or in this case – knock-your-boots-off fantastic! We get to see him in total drag as well as dressed in manlier clothes. But whether he’s in a sequined gown and red high-heeled boots, or in slacks and a paisley scarf, he tugs at your heart and fills it with joy.

 

Billy Porter

 

Other popular shows about transvestites go back to La Cage Aux Folles and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. They are always a hoot. In Kinky Boots we are treated to the delight of a chorus line of gals in elaborate and colorful three-foot high, high-heeled boots. While the music, costumes and dancing are excellent, what strikes you most is the humanity of this story.  We’ve all been in situations where we were down and out and had to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps.  Here, Lola, Charlie and the factory workers get to pick themselves up by the Kinky Bootstraps.

 

Billy Porter as Lola

 

Another powerful theme in Kinky Boots is the relationship between sons and fathers. At the beginning, we see a young Lola, whose father doesn’t understand his son’s fascination with girl's shoes. By the end of the evening, everyone not only understands it – but accepts, appreciates and loves it!  It’s a show that celebrates everyone’s uniqueness – and it’s a unique show that everyone can celebrate!

 

Stark Sands and Billy Porter

 

The Kinky Boots story is charming and uplifting - and unbelievably, it actually happened. Not so unbelievably, Kinky Boots won 6 Tony Awards – including Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Score by Cyndi Lauper, and Best Actor – Billy Porter.

Kinky Boots is a show that is filled with joy. If you can’t make it to New York, watch for it when it goes on tour. It will be an evening to make you smile, laugh and kick up your heels…. um, or even better – kick up your boots!

Kinky Boots – the Musical

Al Hirschfeld Theater
302 West 45th Street
New York, NY10036
http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.com

 

Stark Sands and Billy Porter

 

 

Published on Jun 20, 2013

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