Kinky Boots opened on Broadway on April 4, 2013. Two weeks later I had tickets to see the hot new show, but my father-in-law passed that very day and I never tried to see it again. Sitting in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre last night, I realized what a connection this show is for fathers and sons. My dad and my father-in-law were both more accepting of their sons' choices and lives than the two main characters in this musical, but I still couldn't help but think of them both while watching the show.
Based on the 2005 British film, the musical written by Harvey Fierstein with a score by Cyndi Lauper is basically an old-fashioned feel good musical and won 6 Tony awards. Charlie Price must step into his father's shoes in a failing business (making shoes) and when he meets a drag queen decides to create boots for a niche market. It's about letting go of preconceived notions of others and being who you are. The writing team uses La Cage Aux Folles as a blueprint (also written by Mr. Fierstein) where the drag queen is not one you would see on RuPaul's Drag Race (that can cut you with their tongue), but instead one that the straight people attending the theater will champion for and fall in love with. (The married man next to me loved the show.) And why should he not? There is a lot to love on that stage.
The show felt very fresh to me with a very full audience (for a Monday night) after running for three years. I'm thrilled that the producers realize the show is the star and you don't need stunt casting because Alan Mingo, Jr. (having played the role in Toronto) is absolutely brilliant as Lola. Too many times I've seen actors in drag give a nod & wink to the audience, but Mr. Mingo inhabits the character and lives his life in all of his glory. I saw him last at Paper Mill Playhouse in The Little Mermaid and the same fire and dynamic personality he had then shines through again. He is stunning to watch on stage!
Aaron C. Finley recently took over the role of Charlie Price and has a wonderful singing voice, shares lots of acting levels, and tackles the challenge of his arc head on...and masters the red boots too!
The entire cast is wonderful under Jerry Mitchell's direction and choreography. Stage 'bits' feel as real now as when they were first blocked. I must give a shout out to Haven Burton and Daniel Stewart Sherman for two well done characters (without making them caricatures) and to Devin Trey Campbell as young Lola who has the moves!!