I attended the Wednesday night press opening of Kinky Boots—the Broadway-bound new musical from Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein—and liked it, but it took a while for it to find its footing… or rather, for the audience to step out of reality.
Halfway through the first act, I finally gave in to the seemingly ridiculous premise—save a shoe factory by designing amazing boots for England’s entire drag population—and wanted to belt out “The Sex is in the Heel” along with the amazing Billy Porter (Lola/Simon) and company. The story is barely there, and to stretch it out over two and a half hours takes plenty of padding (starting with Lola’s fabulous costumes), but the audience was, in general, enthralled.
Kudos to adorable Annaleigh Ashford for putting over the season’s best new comic song, “The History of Wrong Guys,” and to Daniel Sherman, who predictably transforms from shlumpy factory-worker bigot to campy kinky-boot-wearing Milan dancing boy. The dancing, by the way, is terrif, especially the first act finale that involves split-second timing and many conveyor belts.
At heart, the show is sweet and corny, all dressed up in baubles and beads that make the outrageous jokes even more outrageous. It’s fun. It’s energetic. It’s colorful. It’s silly. It might even bring a tear to your eye.
My verdict, as the oft repeated line in the show goes: “Ladies and gentlemen and those who have yet to make up your mind”? See Kinky Boots. Sit back and do what you are supposed to do at the theatre—suspend all belief systems and let the magic take over.
And, assuming Kinky Boots makes it to Broadway, Billy Porter is, uh, a shoe-in for a Tony.
Kinky Boots runs through November 4, 2012. For info, kinkybootsthemusical.com.
Photo credit: Gavin B./Kinky Boots