Kinky Boots Kicks Up Its Heels On Broadway: My Review

Categories: Theater

A musical about footwear? No, Kinky Boots is actually about acceptance--of others and self. Prefer a show about footwear? I probably would too, though this one is put together by pros and strings some great numbers onto its plot (based on the so-so 2005 movie about the drag queen and the unwitting shoe factory owner who tranform the industry--and each other--with hot boots for male adventurers.)

Billy Porter is Lola/Simon, a sassy, insecure London drag performer who unexpectedly enters the life of the nerdy but cute factory guy, Charlie (earnest Stark Sands, who sings like a boy bander). "Please, Lord, tell me I've not inspired something burgundy!" is a typical line for Lola, who's gradually finding her footing in the world. (Ugh. No more footwear jokes. Sorry.)

The show is slow to get off its feet--eek, sorry again--but then it starts simmering, at times coming off like a very special Broadway Bares, with more of a throughline. (Well, Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed.)

Lola's "Sex is in the Heel" is the first socko number, with Mitchell's strutting choreography filling the factory with heat as the Cagelles--or whatever--help out with well-oiled fierceness.

A tonal switch comes with "I'm Not My Father's Son," a beautiful ballad of realization for Lola (though it's got way too many verses). And by now you realize that Cyndi Lauper's score is varied, rich, and much more interesting than the usual Broadway fare. Hooray for her!

Act One ends with the ebullient "Everybody Say Yeah," as the drags spin even harder, while the second half brings conflict and antagonism (plus a clever boxing sequence--Harvey Fierstein wrote the script) on the road to redemption and love.

By the end, the talented Porter has veritably become Whitney Houston while learning the importance of being a man. Some of the themes and machinations may seem off the conveyor belt--a device that's integral to one of the numbers--but when a musical is accessorized with stagecraft like this, one learns acceptance. You'll stand at the end, even if it hurts.


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