Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Also see Mark's coverage of E.J. Thomas Hall Season Preview Party and reviews of The Woman Hater and Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, 11/22/14
One definition may be needed kinky boots are thigh-high boots with spike heels. The boots are glittery, bright and perfect for a drag show.
The story is set, for the most part, in a failing shoe factory. George Price (Adam Kaplan) has inherited his father's shoe factory. Last season's shoes have not sold and may soon be given away or at least traded to a discount store. The company needs a new market or it will have to close its doors and layoff its workers. Into their lives comes Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a drag queen. Lola and the Angels perform at clubs. They have a problem. Their boots won't support the weight of a man. George goes to work with his staff and Lola's designs and creates boots made for strutting the stage.
However, that is only the basic plot. Among other things, George changes love interests, and one of the factory workers, Don (Aaron Walpole), who is homophobic as the story starts, learns to appreciate Lola and people who are not like him. The story moves slowly into an interesting plot. The story isn't really about the shoe factory. It is about the men and women who work in a factory and the people who come to the factory to buy its products. The shoe factory changes their lives and ours.
The cast is Broadway quality. When I started reviewing more than 25 years ago, a touring company was often second rate. No more. This company can hold its own with any company of players. They are all excellent singers. Lola and the Angels are excellent dancers who work their way through the sophisticated choreography with ease. And, even with music, songs, and dancing, the storyline becomes believable. The production is especially wonderful in the big production numbers.
The set design is spectacular. The shoe factory is properly dull with factory green, brown and dingy colors. However, the club set is perfect for an inexpensive bar in London. The Milan shoe show set has a runway, flashing lights, and everything one could want for a light-flashing, boot-stomping, sexy finale. The costumes are a mixture of clothing. George and other executives wear suits and sport coats. Those working in the factory wear factory-worker clothesjeans, slacks, and drab shirts. Lola and the Angels wear bright, flashy drag-queen type clothing, decorated with millions of sequins. In the final scene everyone in the cast struts the stage in elegant kinky boots.
Kinky Boots will only be in Cleveland one week. However, the opening night audience jumped to its feet to cheer and applaud for the cast at the first hint of a curtain call. I noted J. Harrison Ghee flashed a smile at the audience response to Lola's big solo, "Hold Me in Your Heart." I don't think the cast expected such a loud, positive response from the audience.
Folks, this is a first-rate production. Don't miss it.
Kinky Boots, at the Connor Palace, Playhouse Square through August 28, 2016. For ticket information telephone 216-640-8800 or go to playhousesquare.org/broadway.
Book: Harvey Fierstein