Kinky Boots: A Review of the Rollicking New Broadway Musical

Charlie and Lauren from Kinky Boots; an unlikely pair.
An unlikely on paper pairing Charlie and Lauren (Annaleigh Ashford and Stark Sands) in the Broadway musical, Kinky Boots  (c)Matthew Murphy

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus

I’ve always loved Cindy Lauper. She became famous during my favorite “fun” decade the ’80s, when Madonna also reigned supreme.To me, though, unlike “material girl” Madonna, Cindy always seemed so relatable, even if I didn’t speak in exactly her Nuw Yawk accent. When she sang Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” caught up in the reckless attitude of the song, I always sang along, whether watching the video on MTV, or skipping down the streets of NYC, after a night out, my arms linked with one or two other female friends.

Which is why  I was intrigued when I heard that Cindy Lauper had written the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical  Kinky Boots. Would the songs be as powerful as her hit song “True Colors,” or would they make me want to shake my booty like “She Bop”?

A bit of both it turns out. Kinky Boots, based on the motion picture Kinky Boots, with Harvey Fierstein as the playwrighter and Jerry Mitchell, the director/choreographer is a fun musical sharing the spirit of Pippin (minus the Fosse touches) with a dash of Billy Elliot, that even had my rather taciturn husband tapping his toes; caught up in the musical’s tale of transformation and redemption.

The story of  kind-of geeky, but sweet, British Charlie, (played with restrained charm by the talented Stark Sands), who faces challenges when his dad dies and he needs to find a way to keep the family shoe factory afloat; takes a strange and unusual twist when an unconventional partner shows up with a little something, um, extra.

Billy Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots
Billy Porter and The Angels (L-R: Kyle Post, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Joey Taranto, and Paul Canaan). (c)Matthew Murphy

The magic for me happened a little later in the first act, when Charlie meets the aforementioned drag queen Lola, richly played by actor, Billy Porter and really blossomed with the engaging and extremely well choreographed song “Sex Is in the Heel”.

Annaleigh Ashford has a standout turn as the blue-collar factory girl who gets Charlie to solve his problems, and look at the world in a new way. The minute she started talking (and then singing her song, The History of Wrong Guys), I saw her as a Cindy Lauper British doppelganger. Plus she was hilarious.

Personally, the show had me in its hands during the fun, fast-paced numbers, and a little less so during the long, albeit beautifully sung songs, like  “I’m Not My Father’s Son (which my husband loved), and “Hold Me in Your Heart,” which Lola sings at the end of the second act. I also wish that as Charlie evolved he would have gotten just a tad more intense, because I would have found the character even sexier that way.

The rousing finale “Raise You Up/Just Be” had everything I look for in an cast ensemble song; an uplifting message, visual appeal, and great moves.

Most importantly, throughout the show, the cast masterfully entertained and much like Cindy Lauper did, the musical aptly demonstrates that getting out of your comfort zone, can lead to amazing opportunities.

So, don’t delay and strut your way to the show playing now at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Because this is a show that offers a little something for everyone and will continue to do so….Time After Time.

So, I have to ask: How did Cindy Lauper and her music impact on your life?

Disclosure: I received tickets to see the show, but the opinions stated here are my own.

One thought on “Kinky Boots: A Review of the Rollicking New Broadway Musical”

Comments are closed.