Kinky Boots at the Orpheum

Kyle Taylor Parker and Lola's Angels. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Kyle Taylor Parker and Lola’s Angels. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Va-Va-Voom!

Kinky Boots (at the Orpheum only through Aug 2; see it while it’s still here) comes alive when sexy Lola – she of the svelte bod, the muscular thighs, the sly come-hither smile, the wigs – sashays and struts across the stage. Kyle Taylor Parker, in matchless drag, plays Lola with zestful gusto. She beckons you into the show and the opening night audience squealed with delight, leapt to their feet (well, metaphorically) and followed. As will you.

Yikes-fire!

Lola’s gleeful energy causes Kinky Boots‘s designers to stand up and face Mecca. Gregg Barnes‘s costumes (which include the brilliantly rendered eponymous boots), David Rockwell‘s sets and (especially) Kenneth Posner‘s lights are marvelous. Ditto sound (John Shivers), hair (Josh Marquette), make-up (Randy Houston Mercer). Kinky Boots is a touring show, but these artists nonetheless manage to make it satisfying.

Lola is accompanied by her “angels” and these consummate, lacking an ounce of extra fat, performers provide, imho, the main reason to see the rollicking Kinky Boots. I have to name them: Joe Beauregard, Darius Harper, Tommy Martinez, Ricky Shroeder, Juan Torres-Falcon and Hernando Umana. The Angels serve what might be called a choric function, acting as Lola’s foils. Their performance appears effortless but in fact we are seeing the result of years of sweat and effort.

Bravas!

Not that the rest of the KB cast isn’t good. The storyline, of the drab shoe factory going “tits up” and reviving itself by making tame and ordinary (not) footwear for drag queens is a touch predictable (do we ever doubt that the boots will thrill?). Still, the cast does well, especially Steven Booth who plays Charlie Price with energy and aplomb (he sings fabulously as well). Also very good is Joe Coots, who plays Don with dangerous, big-as-the-great outdoors, charm. And Lindsay Nicole Chambers as Lauren sings a terrific song terrifically: “The History Of Wrong Guys.” She’s a joy.

Bookist Harvey Fierstein, our gay master-playwright, does surprisingly perfunctory work in Kinky Boots. The book is garbled and uninspiring, zigging and zagging relentlessly. But who cares. The devilishly talented Lola will grab you by the throat, and when she does this, believe me, you will stay grabbed.

Music here is composed by Cyndi Lauper. And it’s… pretty good. Actually it’s excellent. Lauper composes a series of stand-up-and-cheer show stoppers for Lola and the other songs (e.g., “Soul Of A Man,” “Not My Father’s Son”) are nearly as good. Was there an artist in the 80s who seemed more destined to be a flash in the pan? Lauper exhibits amazing range and her work in Kinky Boots is lovely.

All this is pulled together and given excellent focus by director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell.

KB is not a cheap show, but it’s worth it (and who cares if the seating would make Delta Airlines envious). So see it.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, has recently been published. For more info please visit John’s website.

1 comment for “Kinky Boots at the Orpheum

  1. Steven LaVigne
    July 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    I saw it on Broadway and enjoyed it, specifically for Billy Porter’s performance as Lola, but of all the musical versions of movies I’ve seen, it’s the most like the movie. The Cyndi Lauper score is marvelous, but frankly, brought little to the material. It is an uninspired show, worthy of seeing for the production and performances. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Fierstein did for Newsies.

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