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October 17, 2014 Comments Off on “Kinky Boots” Is A Deliciously LIGHT Musical Romp…But, Why Doesn’t The Queen Get A Romance? Views: 1665 #Theater and Stage, Arts & Entertainment, Stage

“Kinky Boots” Is A Deliciously LIGHT Musical Romp…But, Why Doesn’t The Queen Get A Romance?

Charlie Price (Steven Booth, left) and Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker, right) in the First National Tour of Kinky Boots, coming to The 5th Avenue Theatre. ​Credit Matthew Murphy

Charlie Price (Steven Booth, left) and Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker, right) in the First National Tour of Kinky Boots, coming to The 5th Avenue Theatre.
​Credit Matthew Murphy

Review: Kinky Boots. Book by Harvey Fierstein. Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. Based on the film of the same name written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth. Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. With Kyle Taylor Parker, Steven Booth, Lindsay Nicole Chambers. Now through October 26, 2014 at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

It shocked many when it snatched the Tony Award for Best Musical over Matilda: The Musical two years ago but the Cyndi Lauper composed/Harvey Fierstein adaptation of the very minor British film of the same name quickly won over the musical theater world…or, at least younger audiences who enjoy a light hearted, gay musical romp. KINKY BOOTS is not a deep or meaningful show. It’s not sophisticated in any sense of the word. The plot is basic and slight….young British man inherits his father’s failing shoe factory and desperate to keep his workers employed decides to make and market outrageous shoes and boots to the drag queen/trans/fetish market with the help of a saucy, outrageous drag queen. Both the shoe man and the queen grow to accept themselves and overcome “daddy” issues; shoe man is straight and gets “the girl” while the queen gets ….the best numbers, the best costumes and absolutely no love interest. It’s all held together by perky pop tunes, some smart design choices, clever choreography by director Jerry Mitchell and just enough cheeky camp and cheesy schmaltz to keep the night entertaining. It’s a solid piece of pleasant musical fun.

The cardboard characters have just enough quirky heart to keep them engaging and mostly endearing. The performances are strong as well, especially from leads Steven Booth as Charlie, the young shoe factory owner and Kyle Taylor Parker as the wise queen, Lola. Their story and relationship is the heart of Kinky Boots and frankly, that’s how this show/plot would have been improved; these two should have become the romantic pair/leads of the story. Instead, we get Charlie paired up with greedy yuppie girl, then successfully paired up with “nice girl” (a charming performance by Lindsay Nicole Chambers) who works in the factory. Meanwhile, Lola gets no romantic lead or plot line. A missed opportunity from out gay playwright/librettist Harvey Fierstein in my opinion.

As already mentioned, the show has cute choreography from its out gay director, Jerry Mitchell and he knows how to showcase the charms and talents of his primary dancers, “The Angels”,  the six man/queen troupe of back-up dancers for Lola. Sadly, none of the Angels get any character development or act as anything other than back up adornment; they’re the equivalent of dancing mannequins.  In the old days of musical construction, you had your primary story line/romance then your B story/romance and usually even a C story/romance. Or, even two A stories (ala Guys & Dolls). Modern musicals cheese out on that in general and frankly it weakens most shows, this one included. Despite its alleged gay credentials and gay/allied creators (Fierstein, Mitchell & Cyndi Lauper) Kinky Boots never really gets very kinky, or that gay. We have  Charlie’s two romances, one bad and one good and Lola’s fight to be accepted as the other rather dated through line and…nothing else. The show could have also benefited from beefing up the secondary characters, especially the queer ones.

Despite all this carping about the show’s lack of queer content/expression and a rather bland plot, it is a fun show. Ms Lauper’s written a handful of fun songs that are well-staged/choreographed by Mr. Mitchell. “Sex is in the Heel”, “Everybody Say Yeah” and the finale number “Raise You Up/Just Be” are toe tappingly engaging. Only a couple songs flop, the most egregious being the deadly banal “Not My Father’s Son” a dreary duet for the male leads to whine about “daddy” issues.  It’s a show stopper in the bad sense of the word. Fortunately, the Act One ending number, “Everybody Say Yeah”quickly follows to get everyone in a pleasant souvenir/drink buying mood for the intermission.

Who’s this for?

Folks looking for a pleasant evening of musical theater entertainment devoid of anything too deep. Despite the “gay” content, this show is very family friendly….despite the title, Kinky Boots is safe enough for Grandma and the Deacon’s Sunday Brunch Committee from Grandma’s church.

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