“Kinky Boots” Arrives at the Ordway

Photo by Matthew Murphy

by | Apr 4, 2018

“Kinky Boots,” written by Harvey Fierstein with music by Cyndi Lauper, has been a hit ever since it was released in Chicago in 2012. It has the awards to prove it, too. The musical earned 13 nominations and won six at the Tony Awards in 2013 and took home three 2016 Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. Now making a short stint at the Ordway April 3-8, “Kinky Boots” makes for a fun night out, with plenty of laughs to go around.

For those who have not seen the musical or haven’t heard the story line, here is a quick synopsis for you: Charlie Price, played by Lance Bordelon, and his overzealous fiancée, Nicola, played by Hayley Lampart, have plans to move to London and start a life together. However, with the death of Charlie’s father comes a change in plans: Charlie has to decide the future of his father’s failing shoe factory. This is where Lola, a drag queen played by Jos N. Banks, comes into play. Drag queens need better, sturdier heels and Charlie decides it will be the Price & Son shoe factory that caters to this underserved niche market.

Lola, whose character is played fabulously by Banks right from the very beginning, agrees to at least see what Charlie has to offer. After catching a glimpse of Charlie’s first rather ugly heeled shoe, Lola, amusingly unimpressed by his attempt, exclaims, “Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy.” She educates Charlie on the necessity of red, “the color of sex,” and after a little convincing, Lola agrees to join forces with Charlie and the other factory workers.

While Lola is quite clearly the star of the show and entertaining in a larger than life, oozing-confidence sort of way, Charlie was on the receiving end of many laughs too, with his nervous commentary and perfectly pitched vocal inflections. Heart-warming is the scene where Charlie and Lola connect about not being whom their fathers’ want them to be. “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one,'” states C.S. Lewis, and this sentiment was expressed whole-heartedly by Lola and Charlie in the musical number “Not My Father’s Son.” I’m sure I’m not the only one in the theater whose heart smiled when the song ended with a hug.

But all dancing, humor and heels aside, the message of the play comes out clearly: Acceptance for different lifestyles is key. Lola teaches this lesson of acceptance to Don, one of the factory workers who does not understand Lola’s decision to be a drag queen. Lola dares Don to begin accepting people for who they are—Don takes this advice, runs with it and ends up becoming an unlikely hero Charlie didn’t know he needed.

Topped with catchy musical numbers, an amusing love story and lively, quirky characters, “Kinky Boots” is sure to leave a smile on your face. Get your tickets to see the musical here.

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