Kinky Boots

August 23, 2019

**** 

Walk Tall 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their mind, there are several good reasons to invest in “Kinky Boots.” Smart, sexy, awash with colour and charm, you’ll feel like a million dollars and ready to take on the world. You might even learn something about yourself, and maybe even learn to see people a little differently. One thing’s for sure, with “Kinky Boots” you’re gonna have a whale of good time. 

 

Inspired by the 2002 movie of the same name, the multi-award winning “Kinky Boots” sees the hugely disinterested Charlie playing unlikely saviour to his father’s shoe factory in Northampton. Charlie would rather be in London with his fiancee Nicola, but his father’s death, and the factory’s mounting debt, places the livelihood of the factory workers in Charlie's incapable hands. A fortuitous meeting with the larger than life, Lola, might offer a solution. Someone Charlie might have more in common with than at first appears. Lola and her lovely angels are men who like to wear women’s clothes, but whose heels aren’t designed for their body weight. A little ingenuity by Charlie, a little design flourish by Lola, and maybe both men can pull off the impossible by producing the ultimate kinky boot. Providing they can handle Charlie’s raging ego, Lola’s efforts to fit in, Nicola’s insistence on Charlie selling the factory, and actually finishing the boots on time so they can strut them along the Milan catwalks.

With book by the inimitable Harvey Fierstein, “Kinky Boots” finds tradition, and traditional ways of earning a living, having to adapt to modern and more open minded times. Yet it’s tradition that runs large in Fierstein’s delectable tale, which oozes all the sweetness of an old black and white movie. Like a modern, feel good Frank Capra classic, “Kinky Boots” has its underdogs and love triangles, its heartaches and heroes, and its family-like community coming together and standing strong against insurmountable odds. Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper are something of a revelation. If one or two tracks don’t land as strongly, most don’t just land, they utterly transport you. Few more than the heart breaking Not My Father’s Son, and Hold Me In Your Heart, or the delightful The History of Wrong Guys, which brims with Lauper’s unique, quirky playfulness.

Wallace and Gromit'sThe History of Wrong GuysThroughout, direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell proves hit and miss, having some impressive highs, and a few lulls. With pace often hurried, cast struggle to be understood at times, and the end delivers a big, if not exactly show stopping finish for feeling rushed. Visually, Mitchell gives the lions share of choreography to Lola’s angels, and if it's an easy fix narratively, it's not the most imaginative. Yet the six dancing divas who deign to descend from the heavens brighten everyones lives with Mitchell's superb routines. Indeed, when angels Connor Collins, Daniel Downing, Damon Gould, Joshua Lovell, Chileshé Mondelle and Toyan Thomas-Browne are absent, dancing can often look as staid as . David Rockwell’s clever design, with its swirling box and clever conveyer belts, captures both the drabness of the factory floor and the glitz and glamour of the night club. Yet it’s Kenneth Posner’s lighting that does much of the heavy lifting to establish place and mood, even if some people’s marks need a little tightening up on. As does sound, with several cast proving difficult to hear. tank top. Only Paula Lane’s superb routine proves the real exception as she sings about

Harper-Jackson that he’s never eclipsed by the force of nature that is Lola, who naturally becomes the focus of every scene she’s in. For in Lola, Fierstein has created one of the all time great drag queens, steeped in sass, and class, right up to her derrière. An irrepressible joy and one of life’s revelations, Lola might be subject to the world’s heartache, but she refuses to give up hope. All of which a spectacular Kayi Ushe reveals into in an utterly memorable performance.Across the board, “Kinky Boots” boasts a strong cast, with some stand out performances from supporting roles. Demitri Lampra as the belligerent Don, and Adam Price as the open minded, factory foreman are an absolute joy. As is a delightful Paula Lane as the hard crushing Lauren, who's got a thing for Charlie and tells it superbly in one of the shows many highlights. Helen Ternent as Nicola does amazingly well playing someone who’s less a character so much as a distraction, putting meat on some fairly flimsy bones and making Nicola utterly believable and engaging. Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie also does incredibly well, and his chemistry with Lola is superb. Indeed, it’s a testament to

There are many serious themes touched upon throughout “Kinky Boots.” Father and son relationships, competing notions of masculinity, the disappearance of communities to corporatisation, and the hatred and scorn poured on those who dare to express themselves, to name but a few. But, in the end, “Kinky Boots” is about the joy of life in a show with heart and soul. If it often urges us towards nostalgia, it strives with defiant hope for the future. Showing the heart of Rocky, the joy of a Capra movie, the emotional grit of Springsteen, and the charm of Wallace and Gromit, all wrapped up in the glorious gorgeousness that is Lola, “Kinky Boots” is a darling of a show. So get your kinky boots on and go see the fabulous, fierce fun that is “Kinky Boots.” Wear any colour you want. Just maybe not the burgundy.

 

“Kinky Boots” book by Harvey Fierstein, with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, runs at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until August 31.

 

For more information, visit Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

 

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