The closing bows for this show were unlike any I’ve ever experienced.
The show ended at the plot’s climax. The characters were still singing and dancing, and I found myself suddenly standing and clapping, not in applause, but to the beat of the music.
That’s what makes “Kinky Boots” such a wonderful show. It lifts you up—literally and figuratively.
The Broadway show, based on the British movie “Kinky Boots,” follows the hilarious and unlikely intersection of the lives of Charlie Price, who unwillingly inherited his father’s failing shoe company, and the drag queen Lola, who has been obsessed with sparkle, theatrics, the color red, and especially shoes, since childhood. Charlie meets Lola at a precarious time in his life, and Lola, a man who dresses like a woman for a living, teaches Charlie big lessons on what it means to truly be “a man.” You likely won’t be too surprised by this story as it follows a typical story arc. Nevertheless the acting and plot are brilliant.
Charlie and Lola attempt to save Price & Sons by changing the product, which was a line of well-made men’s shoes, into well-made shoes for men—who dress like women. The story is about acceptance, transformation, empathy, tolerance, passion and self expression. It’s fitting that the high heeled-boot is a metaphor for “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
What made “Kinky Boots” so compelling to me and my co-worker who joined me was the dancing and choreography (by Jerry Mitchell), almost entirely performed in really high heels. We’re talking 5-6 inches, and the female characters and male characters wearing those heels equally pulled off the stunts (splits, jumps, twirls) flawlessly. This was exhibited perfectly in the final song in Act 1, “Everybody Say Yeah,” which included technical choreography on treadmills.
You can’t talk about this show without talking about the music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. The pop beats kept the show upbeat and zany, and the slowing of pace changed things up and piqued my interest. Lola’s solo “Hold Me in Your Heart” was beautiful, and actor Timothy Ware conveyed deep emotion—the kind that brings a lump to your throat. My favorite song was “Sex is in the Heel.” It was just so fun and such a celebration of human sensuality and self expression. It’s important to note that after the show, I desperately regretted not wearing heels that night.
Since its first show in 2012 “Kinky Boots” has only become more relevant. In February, President Donald Trump rescinded Obama-era protections for transgender students in schools that allowed them to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The messages of love and acceptance in “Kinky Boots,” delivered via comedy, lyrics, fashion and of course drag queens, should be listened to with open ears. What’s great about “Kinky Boots” is that it teaches us that whether you’re a “trans veteran” or just a burly dude, you are what you say you are, and no one else has a right to define you.
Can you tell I loved it?
Kinky Boots plays at the Kravis Center through April 23. For tickets go to kravis.org.