Kinky Boots – BIG Tony Winner with lots of Pizzazz!

72fb1ca396dbd03385c34266663e7a8a

by:Sandi Durell

Be yourself everyone else is already taken” – one of Oscar Wilde’s most preeminent wisdoms. And it never worked so well as here in “Kinky Boots,” the BIG musical currently playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. If you want to see what this wisdom is all about, get a gander at the Angels; the drag queens that strut their stuff flaunting their sex, free style and fun loving spirits.

3158773515b7425b75570e15e90990bcHarvey Fierstein, book writer, has a style and a message to impart – accept someone for who they are and find your passion. You might think, at times, you’re seeing a sequel to “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” with some “La Cage aux Folles” and “Hairspray” thrown into the mix. And it’s grand! Cyndi Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics, is right on the money in her Broadway debut with lots of pop rock shakers, melodic tunes and poignant ballads that enrich the book.
439a37526997682c56fe24fb285ba748The 2005 British indie film Kinky Boots wasn’t on everyone’s list (although it should have been) and is the story of Charlie Price (Stark SandsAmerican Idiot) who grew up in a shoe factory run by his dad (Stephen Berger) in Northampton. When dad dies, Charlie is left with the factory. However, swayed by his fiancé Nicola (Celina Carvajal), he’s ready to up and leave for London when his conscience gets in the way realizing he can’t fire all these workers with whom he grew up who have depended upon their living from Price and Son. An unintended event occurs when a group of hooligans menace a drag queen on the street, and Charlie gets hit in the head by a shoe boot she waves, the heel breaking. It’s this incident that knocks some sense into him as Lola (Billy Porter) comes into his life and is the catalyst for an idea of creating stiletto heel shoe boots not only for the drag queens, but for anyone who wants to wear them, with a heel that will never break.

The show is all about the glitz, glamour and spectacular costumes, wigs and knock out performances by a larger than life captivating and sizzling Billy Porter, who oozes smoky sexual innuendo at every turn, and his queens; tall lithe, strapped up guys with gorgeous bodies and eye catching moves and grooves. Sands, with his big pop rock voice and sweet do-gooder style, complements with a notable high-octane performance bringing poignant expressiveness to “The Soul of a Man.”

As Lola explains to Charlie that drag queens are not transvestites (who get dressed up and look like Winston Churchill), he and Charlie bond – “I’m Not My Father’s Son.” Charlie inveigles Lola to come on as a designer. Manhood at the factory is threatened as tough guy Don (a very amusing Daniel Stewart Sherman) takes up a challenge from Lola; the women are head over red patent leather heels for Lola who understands their need for affection, for sensitivity and compassion – “What a Woman Wants.”

Set designer David Rockwell went the gamut with creating an interior factory setting with conveyor belts, a particular challenge for the cast when they dance their way over them in those Kinky Boots in the hot, high spirited “Everybody Say Yeah” Act I closer. The semblance of a boxing ring as the sparring Don and Lola go at it in “In This Corner” is smartly portrayed, as Kenneth Posner weighs in with lighting design. Other memorable songs include Porter’s sensitive turn on “Hold Me In Your Heart”

In the meantime, Charlie has executized young Lauren (Annaleigh Ashford Legally Blonde), one of his workers, to help him show his new line of shoe wear in Milan, and who gives a humor-filled performance as his love interest.

With director – choreographer Jerry Mitchell at the helm, the ensemble numbers, featuring Porter (“The Land of Lola”) and rousing closer “Raise You Up/Just Be” had audience members dancing in their seats.

The colorful, kinky costumes and boots are by Gregg Barnes; grand hair design by Josh Marquette, with sound by John Shivers and make up by Randy Houston Mercer. Music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations are by Stephen Oremus.

And most importantly, you’ll get to see some of the most outrageous, splashy two and a half feet of irresistible tubular sex, not only worn by the drag queen Angels (Paul Canaan, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Kyle Taylor Parker, Kyle Post, Charlie Sutton, Joey Tranto) but by an entire cast!

Don’t walk – – – run (not on stilettos please) to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for love, laughs, heart and superb performances because the “Sex is in the Heel” at Kinky Boots!

*Photos: Matthew Murphy

Since this review was originally written, Kinky Boots won Best Musical at the Tony’s, Billy Porter, Best Actor in a Musical, along with Tonys to Cyndi Lauper and Jerry Mitchell and others!

Share