By Christopher Heide
Kinky Boots is a infectious, emotional, high energy production. A contemporary, polished masterclass in musical theater, Kinky Boots presents an incredibly enjoyable artistic endeavor complete with a poignant, resonating theme. It is by far the best production to come to Seattle in years. The 5th Avenue Theatre should be applauded for securing such a well-oiled production for the opening of its theatrical season.
Unlike many of its counterparts, this adrenaline filled Broadway extravaganza presents an apropos and contemporary story. 5th Avenue PR Manager, Bridget Summers, describes the delectable plot.
"In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world."
It's refreshing to see a vivacious drag queen one of the lead characters in a Tony Award winning hit; however, it isn't a complete surprise given how LGBT friendly Broadway has been throughout its history. As Lola, Kyle Taylor Parker gives an award winning performance, beautifully balancing the bold personality of drag queen Lola, with his insecure, non-drag persona. While his dancing and comedic timing are expertly executed, Parker truly steals the show with his showstopping power ballad ("Hold Me In Your Heart") near the end of the production. A true diva moment, Parker gives an emotionally charged performance reminiscent of Jennifer Hudson's iconic turn in Dreamgirls.
Another standout is Steven Booth as Charlie Price. Booth's magnetic personality and impeccable charm are notable throughout the entire show. Just like Parker, however, Booth truly dazzles with his impressive vocal range, belting out notes typically only heard from the likes of Lea Michele or Christina Aguilera. Together, Booth and Parker have a palpable and intimate chemistry that only serves to heighten the overall quality of the show.
While all of the minor characters give strong performances, Lola's angels, a group of gorgeous drag queens are particularly impressive. Played by Darius Harper, Tommy Martinez, Nick McGough, Ricky Schroeder, Juan Torres-Falcon and Hermando Urmana, the angels are scene-stealing, song-and-dance phenomenons.
Everything about this show is well executed. The songs. The costumes. The choreography. What really sets it apart from other productions is the genuine emotional reaction evoked from the audience. According to one of Lola's Angels, Ricky Schroeder, this response is not unusual. The theme of discovering one's true self is extremely appropriate for today's millennial generation. He said,
"Other shows provide good entertainment, but I feel that Kinky Boots really touches people in ways they don’t expect. In fact, the finale leaves most people crying. As a performer, the show hits me on a personal level unlike any other show ever has before. Honestly, the finale is my favorite part of the show. I love to see all of the criers in the audience! The lyrics of the finale are just so empowering. The final song of the show is called "Raise You Up/Just Be". It talks about how you can change the world if you just change your mind. I think it’s a theme that can resonate with a lot of people and is very topical."
Kinky Boots is one of those rare shows that leaves you with a natural high. The show is energetic during its entire set, never lacking in stamina or prowess. Its a sure fire hit, infused with Cyndi Lauper's brilliant musical talents. It's easy to see why the show was such a hit at the Tony awards. The touring company manages to retain much of the magic of the original Broadway production, a truly remarkable feat in itself.