Theatre Review: “Kinky Boots” Paints Dallas Red

"Kinky Boots"


 

A drag queen comes to the rescue of a man who, after inheriting his father’s shoe factory, needs to diversify his product if he wants to keep the business afloat.

Dallas Summer Musicals is gracing the stage at the Music Hall at Fair Park once again with a Broadway sensation. “Kinky Boots” will be running Feb. 24th – March 8th in Dallas as part of the 2015 season, and then again in Fort Worth at the Bass Hall October 27th – Nov. 1st in Fort Worth. If Fort Worth is half as lucky as Dallas, they’ll be getting a memorable and heart-moving show. “Kinky Boots” brings together the work of four time Tony award-winner Harvey Fierstein and Grammy award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper to tell the story of Charlie Price and Lola. If you doubt the power of loving who you are, and the freedom of accepting others for who they are, this show will be a monumental awakening for you. This true story was originally produced as a film in 2005. In 2013, Fierstein and Lauper transformed the movie into a Broadway musical and took the Tony’s by storm sweeping up six awards – the most of any show that season! Best Musical, Best Score (Cyndi Lauper), Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Best Orchestrations (Stephen Oremus) and Best Sound Design (John Shivers) make this a must-see show.

The traveling bus and truck production that is gracing Dallas gave an energetic and vivid performance worthy of the show’s accolades. My greatest disappointment was that it took half of the first act for the cast to get rolling. Part of this I feel was due to a conservative middle of the week audience, and perhaps the cast not being quite up to speed with the opening of the show. By the 4th musical number ‘Land Of Lola,’ any rocky start was completely left behind. My other reason for feeling the performance I attended had a shaky start were the two children who played the parts of young Charlie and Lola. They were very hard to hear or understand, and young Lola’s singing was vey flat. As the show opens, we see how Charles Price may have grown up in the family shoe business, but he never thought that he would take his father’s place. Far from it. As we see Charlie move to London with his fiancée Lauren, Charlie is ready to face life in the big city. Yet, the death of his father drags Charlie right back to the shoe factory, only to learn that Price & Sons Shoes is failing.

While in despair at his failed attempts to save the business, Charles has a chance encounter with the flamboyant drag queen cabaret singer, Lola. Her complaints about the inadequate footwear for her work, and the support of one of Charlies employees, Lauren, leads to a change in the factory’s product. A desperate chance is taken to save the business: make men’s fetish footwear. Lola is convinced to be their footwear designer and the transition begins. Now this disparate lot must struggle at this unorthodox idea while dealing with both the prejudice of the staff, Lola’s discomfort in the small town and the selfish manipulation of Charles’ greedy fiancée who cannot see the greater good in Charles’ dream. Through the struggles, challenges and growing pains of the factory workers and our hero and heroine, the audience is handed the deep truism: the only way to be happy is by accepting yourself and those around you for who they really are. Charlie, played by Steven Booth, gives a very moving portrayal of a small town boy trying to decide if he belongs in the big city or if he can be happy where he grew up.

kinky boots

Lola, played by Jay Harrison Ghee, sweeps the stage and pulled at my heart with her beauty and inner demons. In the movie, Lola’s back up singers at her drag queen cabaret are only on screen for two scenes at the club and one scene at the fashion show in Milan. In the musical stage adaptation, Lola’s back up singers, her “Angels,” appear in several of the musical numbers at the factory and pub, as well as the scenes they’re expected in. The drag queens that sashayed, strutted and high-kicked their way across the stage in Dallas left me breathless, and wishing that I were even half as gorgeous and talented as they were. In any show that requires an accent, the actors are always challenged to maintain a constant and correct dialect. Several of the supporting actors in the cast that played factory workers had noticeable difficulty with this. Overall though, a very good job was done carrying off several different Great British patterns of speech. The name “Dallas Summer Musicals” is a misleading name to anyone outside the Dallas area.

The Dallas institution is celebrating 75 yeas of award winning and audience moving productions this year, and has carried a full season of shows for quite some time. In the spirit of community support and promotion of the arts, Dallas Summer Musicals and the producers of Kinky Boots have announced a “student rush” ticket for all performances for the run of the show beginning one hour before each performance, students can purchase a $25 ticket on a first come first serve basis at the Music Hall box office. A valid student ID is required and is limited to 1 ticket per student ID at this price. Complete ticket information can be viewed at www.DallasSummerMusicals.org. I was completely comfortable having my 15 year old daughter with me as my guest at Kinky Boots, but might hesitate at children younger than middle school attending due to the sexual nature of a show discussing sexuality and unconventional gender choices. Cyndi Lauper has been a favorite of mine since the early 80’s when I was in middle school and high school.

I can remember mortifying my mother when I cut and Kool-Aid died my hair to immolate Cyndi Lauper. My hair eventually grew out and he color washed away. My love for Lauper’s music has remained constant. After seeing the show, it’s easy to understand why she was awarded Best Score at the 2013 Tony Awards. Actually, it’s easy to understand why it swept the Tonys that year!

Now playing at the Music Hall at Fair Park Feb. 24th thru March 8th

kinky-boots

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