Review of Kinky Boots by Sabrina Woolf

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Kinky Boots- Its A Shoe-Stopper! by Sabrina Woolf, Student Critic

            I didn’t know what to expect when I took my seat in Hanover Theatre for the Tony-Award winning musical, Kinky Boots. What were those iconic ruby red high heeled boots all about anyway? Surely we couldn’t expect the ensemble to do show-stopping dance moves in six inch high heels! (I was proven wrong.)  I am proud to report that Kinky Boots is theatre like never seen before- unforgettably mixing the sequins and sparkle of Broadway with a message every audience member is lucky to have experienced: accepting people for who they are. The music, by Cyndi Lauper, of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” fame, has heart, soul, and a deepness to it so rarely seen on the stage.

            Based on a true story, Kinky Boots is about a shoe factory- owner, Charlie Price, and his struggle not just to find himself- but to find a niche market to save all of the jobs at the family business. Just when it seems Charlie’s luck has run out he encounters Lola- a drag queen, who might just save the factory armed only with her sass and sparkles. The friendship between Lola and Charlie is priceless and grows into something so personal and special, especially when they reveal their struggle with people not allowing them the freedom to be themselves in “I’m Not My Father’s Son.” In Lola’s case she is told to never dress or act like a woman, but throughout the story she learns to have true confidence and acceptance in herself- a lesson only learned when she meets Charlie.

            The show was put together by musical heavy-weights- choreography by Jerry Mitchell as well as a book by Harvey Fierstein. I know this show would not have been a smash without the unforgettable lead, J. Harrison Ghee, as Lola. The show seemed like the usual feel-good-Broadway stereotype until she strutted onto the scene. Her songs were all hits- including the “Land of Lola”, “The Sex Is In the Heel”, and “Hold Me In Your Heart”. In one scene, Lola tries to fit into the male crowd and gets made fun of for what bathroom she uses- relating beautifully to struggles people face today. Throughout the show she reveals to Charlie a part of herself that is very personal- with the line “Whatever I wanted as a kid my father beat out of me.” How can we live in a society when we hit people based on what they love to wear? The audience was so engrossed in her tale there were ecstatic cheers when she finally found her acceptance.

            The music had a rock-and-roll, edgy vibe which really resonated with the audience. A cast standout was Tiffany Engen as Lauren, the quirky and awkward factory worker who realizes she has a crush on Charlie in “The History of Wrong Guys”. The way she dances and belts that song out got the entire audience wildly cheering! I would have loved to see some more depth to characters other than Lola. Charlie and his relationship with his girlfriend was not fully explored, and Don’s background would have been an interesting side story.  However, with this show I guess you have to just “Take What You Got” (Another fun song in the show.).

            The Angles, or Lola’s backup singers, were unforgettable! All of these fabulous drag queens carried the entire show- doing splits and Rockettes kicks whilst sporting six inch high heeled boots! The energy they brought to the show gave it life- the match to the gasoline in order to make this show an explosion of color, fun, and creativity.

            I don’t know if I have ever enjoyed myself more at the theatre than with Kinky Boots, not because of the glitz, glam, and glitter, but because I felt empowered by Lola’s story. This show won the Tony due to its positive message, and I am grateful for the experience. At the end of the show they sing, “You Can Change the World if you change your mind”, and I certainly felt that way witnessing the magic of those sparkly boots.

 

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