Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kinky Boots Delivers - Fun, Flirty and Fabulous (for a bit to long)


Kinky Boots, freshly opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, is great fun.  A toe-tappy, big dance number, ball of fabulousness - riding in on drag queens and lessons on self-confidence and redemption.  Which is to say, a bit of old-fashioned Broadway.
The cast and the Kinky Boots
What makes Kinky Boots special are the songs by Cyndi Lauper.  Here infectious brand of sweetness and sentimentality, without being saccharin or dull, moves the musical and all the pieces.  Director Jerry Mitchell makes perfect use of the material, and the diverse players to produce a great time.
It is a familiar tale; a young man wants to leave a dry stuffy town to make his way in the big city.  Dad dies and he has to take over the business, all the while yearning for the life he could have had.  Until, he discovers there really is no place like home, once you change it enough.  In the case of Kinky Boots, the dry town is in England, Clarence the Angel is a drag queen named Lola (with her own Angels) and the young man saves the factory and himself by making designer footwear for men that like to dress as women – sequined, shiny, fabulous women.
Stark Sands, Annaleigh Ashford & Billy Porter
Stark Sands plays the young man in question, Charlie Price – recipient of Price and Sons shoes.  Mr. Sands brings a nice understated earnestness to the role, trying to find a way to save the factory, but still be with his fianc√© in London.  A veteran of American Idiot, Mr. Stark knows when to let the song take center stage, and also when to belt it out.
Billy Porter has the far showier role of Lola, Drag Queen extraordinaire, sassy show muse and dispenser of wisdom.  I can’t image the role being any good without Ms. Lauper’s songs.  Her songs allow Mr. Porter to explore both sides of a stereotypical role and bring a warm heart to the proceedings.
Two first act numbers, The Sex Is In The Heel and Everybody Say Yeah are big time Broadway at their best.  Infectious and fun, these set up high expectations for Act 2.  Expectations that aren’t, always, meet.  In Act 2, writer Harvey Fierstein hues a little too closely to the movie – taking us down some sentimental lanes better left hinted at or imagined.  Here Kinky Boots occasionally feels formulaic and too obvious.
All is forgiven quickly though as Kinky Boots ends as it should - in a big brassy number that leave the audience happy and the cast in afore mentioned designer footwear.  Great Fun.

Kinky Boots
Jerry Mitchell, Harvey Fierstein & Cyndi Lauper
Book: Harvey Fierstein, Music & Lyrics : Cyndi Lauper
Director: Jerry Mitchell
Cast: Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Annaleigh Ashford, Celina Carvajal, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Marcus Neville, John Jeffery Martin, Nathan Peck, Joey Taranto
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