There’s so much to like about Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s rollicking, feel-good musical, “Kinky Boots,” Broadway in Boston extended its run at the Boston Opera House through Aug. 30. It’s easy to see why this show earned six Tony Awards in 2013, including Best Musical,Best Score, Best Choreography, along with the Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Broadway.com Awards for Best Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Album.
This national touring company production has all the show’s glitz, glitter and glamor, including those outrageous, thigh-high stiletto boots (kudos, award-winning costume designer, Gregg Barnes) that most of us could never get into, much less walk in, but the cast struts, kicks and strolls around with aplomb, especially star, Kyle Taylor Parker, who portrays cross dressing Lola/Simon with stunning credibility and sensitivity. He is the ideal in-your-face, individualistic foil to plain-living, small-town Charlie Price, whom fresh-faced Steven Booth portrays well. Although society isn’t comfortable with accepting Lola for who she is, she has a lot to teach us about being comfortable in our own skin and accepting ourselves for who we are.
David Rockwell’s sets, from Price and Son’s factory in Northampton, to Lola and her Angels’ pulsating, eye-popping club numbers, and London’s grimy streets; along with Tony Award nominee Kenneth Posner’s lighting and John Shivers’ sound effects,(both Tony Award winners), intensify the musical.
In the bustling opening number, two little boys (Anthony Picarello and Nicholas Aaron Jenkins in the version I saw), are on opposite sides of the bustling stage, doing their thing. Little Lola /Simon is strutting around in his mother’s high heels, angering his father, while little Charlie is dutifully with his dad in the factory, in “Price and Son Theme”.
For grown-up Charlie, his life in Northampton, England, is humdrum. His father (Nick Sullivan) owns an established, men’s shoe factory that’s dying. It’s essential to maintain the factory, because most town residents depend on it for employment.
Charlie wants to go to London with his savvy fiancee, Nicola, (Grace Stockdale). With a heartfelt sendoff from the factory workers and a soulful goodbye from his dad, Charlie and Nicola leave, but his stay is short-lived. His father dies, leaving Charlie at a crossroads - stay in London or take over the factory.
Nicola has the ideal solution. Develop it into condos, and return to London. But Charlie’s conscience won’t allow that, especially after confronting his longtime, faithful factory employees with pink slips and his announcement he’s closing the failing factory.
Miraculously, Charlie finds a way to pump adrenaline into the business, after a dramatic chance encounter with Lola, who tells him she must find a shoe company that can create fashionable, glitzy, stiletto heels strong enough to support cross-dressing males’ weight.
Charlie and Lola/Simon realize they have much in common, in their soaring, empathetic duet, “Not My Father’s Son”. Simon reveals he disappointed his dad by not following in his footsteps by becoming a professional boxer - although he trained successfully for it- and Charlie was supposed to take over Price and Son, but wanted no part of it.
The combined touring and local musicians, under conductor Adam Souza’s deft baton - he also plays keyboard - is fantastic throughout the show, from anthemic ensemble numbers, such as Lola and Co.’s bombastic “Land of Lola,” and “Sex is in the Heel,” through the rousing finale, “Raise You Up/Just Be,” to soulful solos and duets, Charlie’s soliloquy, “Soul of A Man,” and Lola’s “Hold Me In Your Heart”.
Portraying Lauren, the faithful factory worker who’s secretly in love with Charlie, Lindsay Nicole Chambers unleashes her big voice and comedic chops in first act solo, “The History of Wrong Guys”.
Apparently, she’s chosen correctly this time, by sticking with Charlie and shoe designer Lola, helping to manufacture Lola’s wild, kinky boots, and winning her man.
The entire company hits its apex in second act “In This Corner,” a magnificently choreographed boxing match number between Simon and factory bully, Don, (Joe Coots).
“Kinky Boots” isn’t just another musical with a plausible story line. It’s a reason to stand up, rejoice, sing, shout, dance, and simply enjoy a show that dares to be, living up to its song, “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World”. It “Raises You Up,” celebrating “Just Be” (yourself), and accepting others for daring to be themselves.
BOX INFO: Two-act, two-hour, six-time Tony Award winning musical, book by Harvey Fierstein, lyric,music by Cyndi Lauper, with Jerry Mitchell’s award-winning choreography, appearing through Aug. 30, at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. Performances: Tuesday-Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2,8 p.m.; Sundays, at 1,6:30 p.m.; Aug. 27, also at 1 p.m.; Aug. 30, at 1 p.m. only. Tickets start at $44. Call Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787,visit wwww.BroadwayInBoston.com or the Box Office.