Kinky Boots – A Holiday recommendation

Credit: Matthew Murphy

Credit: Matthew Murphy

This review was originally published in 2013.  But if you are looking for a Holiday show to share with family and friends – this is one I recommend.

I love tissue paper. So much color that takes up so much eye real estate and yet weighs nothing. With just a little touch of tissue one can masque a myriad of deficiencies. So, naturally, I liked this show. What I l-o-v-e-d, however, was this exuberant cast. These people are marinating in joy, and each performance is devoted to lifting you waaaaay up.

In addition, you will not be bored, because you are not allowed to indulge in anything so frivolous as boredom. The story line here is It’s A Wonderful Life meets La Cage Aux Folles. Charlie Price (Stark Sands) and his gal Nicola (Celina Carajal) are getting out of Northampton, England and heading for civilization in London. They no sooner arrive when the word comes that the senior Mr. Price has passed on, and Charlie is called home to deal with the shoe factory his father left behind. He goes home to fix a problem and instead finds a life

As we enter the story, Price Shoes has been a steady maker of sturdy shoes for decades, but time has marched on and Price Shoes has not. Faced with the prospect of closing the factory and laying off a work force, most of whom he has known all his life, Charlie does the only thing he can: he heads back to London and the comfort of an old friend whom he hopes will take Charlie’s surplus shoes away. On his way home Charlie stops to rescue a damsel in distress – a cross dresser who packs a mean wallop at the expense of her high heeled boots. The swing lands on Charlie by mistake and he is taken in by his soon to be best friend – Lola (Billy Porter).

In a plot point that is beyond far fetched, Charlie discovers the dearth of women’s high-heeled boots that are strong enough to hold up a man. It takes awhile, but Charlie finally sees the possibilities of this niche market.

Northampton – meet Another World.

With Lola’s entrance into the story the temperature of the entire theatre rises. Not only is this one hot human being, but s/he carries a passel of challenges. How will this fully formed human get on with the factory workers? And how will thinking outside the box affect everyone in a 50-mile radius. There is prejudice to overcome, shoes to be made and lives to change.
And somehow it all shakes out – including The History of Wrong Guys – delivered by a delicious Annaleigh Ashford who bears a remarkable resemblance to Cyndi Lauper while carving out her own path. Lola and the extraordinary Angels (Paul Canaan, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Kyle Taylor Parker, Kyle Post, Charlie Sutton and Joey Taranto) pack more power and glitter per square inch than a mirror ball on high-speed while they sing and strut and summersault the message of lip smackin’ joy. Slowly the factory workers are brought around. Even Charlie has his own rock number of self discovery.

What is lacking is mostly in the text. The peaks that should be here turn out to be little mounds. In some ways this is a concert wit spoken words between the songs. Still, there is nothing wrong with feeling good, and this show does that shamelessly. This cast, led by sweeps you up in their arms and refuses to let you go until you are smothered in a good time.

Audiences who spend a lot of time wondering just hot those men can look so much like women eventually surrender and stand to cheer at the show’s conclusion.

Not a bad night’s work.

Kinky Boots

Book by Harvey Fierstein; music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, based on the Miramax motion picture “Kinky Boots,” written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth; directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen Oremus; sets by David Rockwell; costumes by Gregg Barnes; lighting by Kenneth Posner; sound by John Shivers; hair design by Josh Marquette; makeup design by Randy Houston Mercer; associate choreographer, Rusty Mowery; music director, Brian Usifer; music coordinator, Michael Keller; technical supervisor, Christopher C. Smith; production stage manager, Lois L. Griffing; associate producer, Amuse Inc.; general manager, Foresight Theatrical/Aaron Lustbader. Presented by Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig, James L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Independent Presenters Network, CJ E&M, Jyne Baron Sherman, Just for Laughs Theatricals/Judith Ann Abrams, Yasuhiro Kawana, Jane Bergère, Allan S. Gordon and Adam S. Gordon, Ken Davenport, Hunter Arnold, Lucy and Phil Suarez, Bryan Bantry, Ron Fierstein and Dorsey Regal, Jim Kierstead/Gregory Rae, BB Group/Christina Papagjika, Michael DeSantis/Patrick Baugh, Brian Smith/Tom and Connie Walsh, Warren Trepp and Jujamcyn Theaters. At the Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 West 45th Street, Clinton, (212) 239-6200, telecharge.com. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.

Tulis McCall

Author: Tulis McCall

For my money, the theatre is up there in the ten top reasons to be human. I leave my home and go sit in a dark room with complete strangers and watch actors do their stuff because I want to be inspired. I’m asking to be involved. I’m volunteering to be led down any old path they choose as long as they don’t let go of my hand. And if I see a show, and it is NOT so very good – I will try to divert you, because I don’t want you to come to the temple when the preaching isn’t up to snuff. I will bar the door, I will swing from rafters, I will yell FIRE just to set your feet on a path that does not lead to disappointment. Do something different with your evening I will say. Save your money for dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in months because you are too frigging busy. Go take a walk with your dog or your child or your significant other. Go to bed early, I will say. Don’t come to the theatre when it is less than it can be. I’m an usher snob, and that’s all there is to it.

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Want our reviews delivered to your inbox?

Want our reviews delivered to your inbox?

Join our mailing list to receive the latest reviews from the Front Row Center. We will email you all of the reviews twice weekly.

You have Successfully Subscribed!