Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of Arcadia
Set in Northampton, England, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price (Curt Hansen), who inherits a shoe factory from his father (Tom Souhrada). Charlie has just moved to London with his status-conscious fiancée Nicola (Katerina Papacostas) when he discovers his father has passed away. Returning to the small town of Northampton he discovers the factory is floundering and in danger of closing. With the help of longtime employee Lauren (Rose Hemingway), Charlie realizes that he must change his product line to spark sales. He forms an unlikely partnership with a cabaret performer and drag queen named Lola (Timothy Ware). With Lola as a designer, Charlie develops a plan to manufacture ultra-stylish high-heeled boots designed to support the weight of even the sturdiest drag queen. Despite their differences, and some resistance from Charlie's employees, Charlie and Lola find that mutual respect and acceptance is the key to success in their business as well as their personal lives. It is a message from which even the crustiest of factory employees, Don ((Aaron Walpole), gains some valuable insight.
Curt Hansen is both compelling and likable as Charlie. He is paired at first with the gorgeous Katerina Papocostas as Nicola, and later with the very funny Rose Hemingway as Lauren (her performance of the comedic "The History of Wrong Guys" is one of the highlights of the show). There is an honesty to Hansen's performance that works well for the role, and is important to the show. His vocal placement in the higher parts of songs falls into a Motown feel that complements his tenor voice. He gives a standout performance in the song "Soul of a Man" and works beautifully with his Lola, Timothy Ware.
Timothy Ware does an admirable job as Lola. His stage presence is commanding in a role that is both difficult and demanding. His voice is at its best in the soulful duet "Not My Father's Son," and the pop-diva style ballad "Hold Me in Your Heart." There are times, however, when a genuine, emotionally organic connection to the character seems missing. Lola's humor, playfulness, and vulnerability need to be brought out more to flesh out the many layers of the character, and keep her fresh.
Lola is framed by a bevy of fellow drag singer/dancers who act as back-up girls, called Angels. They are all various versions of glamorous, leggy illusions of seduction and femininity used to advantage whenever possible. Though I love the Angels and their choreography, their spacing and execution is not always as clean and together as it could be.
The costumes, wigs, and, of course, the footwear are a treat to watch in this production. The orchestra plays the score cleanly, and the sound is well balanced, allowing the vocal harmonies in ensemble numbers to be heard clearly. The lighting effectively enhances the mood and the action, particularly in the number in which Lola and the Angels are featured.
Who knew that the team of singer/songwriter Cyndi Lauper and actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein would bring us a magical musical? There is no missing the aforesaid message of this musicalacceptance. We all have the basic human desire to be loved and accepted, and we all must offer that in return to those around us to find fulfillment. The show is written with such complete sincerity that it leaves the audience feeling uplifted. At the performance I attended, the production was rightfully rewarded with a standing ovation that was filled with happy, smiling faces.
Kinky Boots opened on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4, 2013, winning six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score (Cyndi Lauper), Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Best Orchestrations (Stephen Oremus), and Best Sound Design (John Shivers), as well as numerous other accolades.
Kinky Boots will be appearing at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts through April 23, 2017. Tickets for this event start at $27 and may be purchased at the Kravis Center Box Office located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, online at the Official Kravis Center website www.kravis.org, or by calling the Box Office at 561-832-7469. For Group Sales, please call 561-651-4438 or 561-651-4304. For more information on the tour, visit kinkybootsthemusical.com/tour.php.
The actors and stage managers in this production are member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.