It’s always exciting when a new show comes to town (there are only so many ways you can write “Phantom of the Opera was amazing”). It’s even better when the new show is as entertaining as “Kinky Boots.”
Inspired by true events, “Kinky Boots” first came to life as a movie in 2005. A musical version, with music and lyrics by ’80s pop star Cyndi Lauper and book Harvey Fierstein, took to the Broadway stage in 2013. It went on to win six Tony Awards including Best Musical.
Set in a working-class town outside London, “Kinky Boots” is the story of Charlie Price (Steven Booth), who saves the family business with the help of an unlikely friend.
Price & Son is a shoe manufacturer that has fallen on hard times. Son Charlie wants nothing to do with the business and has moved to London to start a new life with his fiance. When dad dies unexpectedly, Charlie is drawn home where he must figure out a way to keep his factory alive and his friends employed.
A chance encounter with a drag queen named Lola (Darius Harper) provides the answer. When Lola complains that it’s hard to find quality high-heeled boots suitable for male ankles, Charlie sees a niche market that could be all his.
Of course it won’t be easy. The factory workers, especially the men, don’t know what to make of Lola. The story becomes as much about acceptance and being true to yourself as it does about making fashionable footwear.
“Kinky Boots” is an energetic, fun and moving show. The set design, the costumes, the music, the cast — all come together in a wildly funny and fast-paced production.
Lauper successfully brings her skills at writing catchy pop tunes to bear with a score filled with musical highlights, such as the opening “The Most Beautiful Thing,” the sizzling “Sex is in the Heel,” the humorous “The History of Wrong Guys,” the moving “Soul of a Man” and the rousing finale — “Raise You Up/Just Be.” None of the songs feel like filler or lack heart.
Of course a fine score doesn’t mean much without the talent on stage and in the pit. “Kinky Boots” boasts a fine touring orchestra and a cast that can really dance and sing — even in high-heeled boots. While Booth gives a strong performance it is Harper who really commands the stage. His performance as Lola is dynamite.