“Kinky Boots” struts its way into your heart at Stage 42! I love when a revival is done that lives up to the glory and expectations of the original show. A revival that has cast in the main roles, thespians who definitely make the cut and bring their “A” game and that is what has happened at Stage 42 on 42nd Street with the revival of “Kinky Boots”! This musical features a delightful book by Harvey Fierstein and terrific music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. When you first walk into the theatre prior to the musical starting, you are treated to a fun soundtrack of Lauper songs to get you into the mood to just have a wonderful time and that is exactly what is about to happen. “Kinky Boots” tells the story of the Price family, who have been making men’s shoes for years. Mr. Price hopes to pass the business onto his son Charlie, but Charlie has other plans. When events lead to Charlie taking over the business it is in dire straits and he has to come up with a plan to save it. An encounter with a drag queen named Lola begins a journey that leads Charlie down a road he has never traveled before and one where he and Lola prove to enrich each other’s lives.
“Kinky Boots” is a musical about prejudice, one’s ability to be comfortable with who you are despite what that might mean in your family relationships, one challenging their limitations and people realizing that everyone has a right to how they perceive themselves and that in the end there is something that truly connects us all. This musical depicts—utilizing sassy humor—the discrimination that drag queens face and learn to overcome. There are so many beautiful moments in this musical as Lola and her Angels—six other drag queens—proudly, beautifully and gloriously strut their stuff and make no apologies. It was wonderful to experience the world and their power in it through their perspective. It was also interesting that Fierstein’s marvelous book declared that Lola and other drag queens still desired the acceptance and approval of their family and were hurt by the fact that it was not something that was necessarily going to happen.
The cast of this musical is absolutely stupendous! Callum Francis is a force to be reckoned with as Lola! His portrayal of Lola has a great deal of heart, confidence, but also vulnerability. She is a character that has many levels, but in the end she is a fierce human being that deserves everyone’s respect and bends over backwards to make people feel comfortable. While those around her may not all be concerned with her feelings, she is concerned for them. There are incredible lessons being taught in this musical. Francis commands the stage with utter control and brilliance! Christian Douglas is wonderful as Charlie Price. He needs a niche market to give new life to his family’s failing shoe factory and he finds it with the drag queens. But he also has a lot of growing up to do and he does it during the musical. It’s touching to see the growth that this character goes through. Danielle Hope rocks the show as Lauren, a factory worker who tells Charlie to find another product and then sticks by him when he thinks of kinky boots for drag queens. Her character is absolutely engaging and a delight to watch. All the factory workers are incredibly portrayed by an ensemble that just adds to the fun of the musical and includes Liz Pearce as Trish; Marcus Neville as George; Sean Steele as Don; and Bella Coppola as Pat. Brianna Stoute is good as Nicola, Charlie’s fiancé who wants to get him to sell the factory and change the building into condos. Bringing the energy, the charged dynamic and fun to this musical are the other drag queens or Angels—Nick Drake; Ian Gallagher Fitzgerald, Kevin Smith Kirkwood; Marty Lauter, Ricky Schroeder and Tarion Strong.
There is just so much to be engaged with while watching this musical! “Kinky Boots” will have you cheering, screaming approval and ready to strut the runway yourself! The stunning choreography and direction are the work of the amazing Jerry Mitchell! Put on your sneakers, boots, sandals or shoes, but strut to Stage 42 and experience “Kinky Boots”!