Review: ‘Kinky Boots’

(Above source: BroadwayHD)

Today BroadwayHD raises the curtain on a filmed version of a West End performance of the musical Kinky Boots, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell and based on the 2005 movie written by Geoff Deane and Tom Firth.

Kinky Boots, which took home both the Tony and London’s Olivier Award for best musical, is rooted in the pop music of the 1980s (down to the stylized orchestration of synthesizers). The music and lyrics for the show’s 16 songs – many of which are irresistibly catchy – were written by the celebrated ’80s singer/songwriter, Cyndi Lauper.

If the emotionally gripping “Hold Me In Your Heart,” performed bravely by drag queen ‘Lola’ (the marvelous Matt Henry) to her less-than-tolerant indigent father, seems reminiscent of “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles (1983), keep in mind that both musicals were adapted for the stage by Harvey Fierstein.

The story: Charlie Price (Killian Donnelly) inherits his father’s failing shoe factory. Lola, a performing drag queen (also known as Simon), inadvertently meets Charlie when he tries to defend Lola from two abusive thugs. In the process, Lola accidentally breaks her prized stiletto heel on Charlie’s face. Soon Charlie’s need to preserve his father’s business and Lola’s desire for self-respect and new horizons bring them together. Collaboratively, they create an unusual line of – well – kinky boots.

(Above: Matt Henry and Killian Donnelly. Source: BroadwayHD)

The show is rather conventional in its structuring and opens with a time-worn, expositional format. Some songs, while cleverly crafted, give off a sense of Broadway-déjà vu (“Land of Lola” comes to mind).

Nevertheless, Lauper writes beautiful ballads, and the production’s energetic flow is relentless. The Act I finale, “Everybody Say Yea,” is a choreographed sequence of conveyor belts – a device Gene Kelly would have envied.

All the performers are very strong and their characters deftly written, making Kinky Boots another excellent addition to BroadwayHD’s increasing repertory of great theater musicals.

BroadwayHD costs $8.99 monthly or $99.99 annually, with a one-week free trial. For more info, including device list, visit broadwayhd.com.

You can also stream the 2005 movie with a Hulu subscription; or rent it for $3.99 from Google Play and other providers.

Editor’s note: Charlie Greenberg has composed original scores and songs for numerous off-Broadway productions and instrumental ensembles. His new album, ‘Songs of Male Middle-Age-Crazy!,’ is available from CDBaby.

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About Charlie Greenberg

Charlie Greenberg is a NY-based theater and instrumental composer.

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