Kinky Boots (Musical) – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

Depending on how you look at it, either this is a show about trying to understand people and acceptance or how tolerance only goes so far as you are an asset, or convenient to those in power.

Trigger Warning(s): Homophobic Teasing

Review (with Spoilers)

I feel like I should put a few disclaimers before I begin. One, I’m not much for musicals since there is usually only two or three songs I like (in this case “Land of Lola” and “Sex Is In The Heel”) and the rest I’m just struggling through. Second, I primarily came to see this because of Todrick Hall and third, I did overall enjoy myself. So when it comes to the criticism or tone of the character summary, keep that in mind.

Characters & Story

Charlie Price (Aaron C. Finley)

As a child, Charlie didn’t want to inherit and work at his father’s shoe factory. He even escaped to London with fiancée Nicola (Shannon O’Boyle) to get away from that life in North Hampton. However, with his father’s death, he inherits the dying business and is faced with either laying off all the people he grew up with or changing the business to suit modern needs. Thus enters Lola who presents a niche market which can save the factory. Though with bigots within the factory, including Charlie to a certain degree, so comes the question if they can put their prejudice aside long enough to save the factory and maybe become thankful people like Lola exist.

Lola/ Simon (Todrick Hall)

There was something about heels when Simon was growing up and his love for them his father Simon Sr. (Eugene Barry-Hill) just couldn’t support. For even if this story is set in modern times, like we’ve seen in the recent presidential election, the farther you are from the city the less tolerance or acceptance is a norm and not an outlier. So, like Charlie, once he became old enough to do so he escaped to London.

Thus was born, Lola. A drag queen who, like RuPaul admired and valued the beauty and glamour of woman and honored them in his dress, or rather dresses. Yet the shoes just didn’t do for while Prince may have had a collection of heels, Lola isn’t an itty bitty thing, she is fully grown and operational but the heels can’t go for miles. So when Charlie stumbles upon her and speaks on designing heels for her and her kind, it is exciting, especially since they are to be Lola’s designs. But as time wears on and the two grow close, so begins the need to question if it isn’t only Don (Daniel Sherman) who has a problem with Lola or if Charlie is just like everyone else. Just he is willing to mask his distaste if it means making some money.

Highlights

The Choreography

Being that when I usually see live performances they are plays, I wasn’t prepared at all for the spectacle of the choreography, especially in heels. Primarily it is Lola and her Angels who get any props for the choreography for those girls, or guys, not sure which is appropriate, are not only glammed up to the max but are doing high kicks, splits, and even when it is done not a hair is out of place, the costumes aren’t ripped, and they maintain their sass as if they didn’t do more in 5 minutes than most do during an hour Zumba class. I mean, while the focus is on them it is just hard to pick which one to focus on.

It Is So Comical

Perhaps one of the few areas where everyone gets a chance to shine is when the musical is focusing on comedic bits. That is when those without top billing, those who you don’t see on the front of advertisements, get to stand out and perhaps make the argument for why you should know their name. Much less their characters. Though, as with the choreography, it again is Lola and her Angels who have the most memorable moments while everyone else fights for scraps. Though, I should note the character of Lauren (Haven Burton), as she expresses her desires for Charlie, was perhaps the only one who really took advantage of her time on stage. To the point, she was perhaps the only person who wasn’t in drag that you genuinely cared about from start to finish.

Todrick Hall

You know it is one thing to put on a funny internet video where you have the ability to do a million and one takes, you can edit things to put yourself in the best light, and you can control every facet. This is a live performance and you are not the head. You may be the guest performer who was hired based on your ability to get people to buy tickets, but you gotta prove you are more than your name. Well, in case you didn’t know, Todrick’s resume isn’t just American Idol and YouTube, between his own tours and two previous musicals, this ain’t his first rodeo.

With that said, be it comedic timing, the singing or choreography, never mind him having the most recognizable name and face, he basically eclipsed everyone. To the point where if they ever adapt the music into a movie, I’m pretty sure with his participation it’ll eclipse the original.

Criticism

The Dramatic Parts

With that said, the dramatic moments made my eyes roll, no matter who you spoke of. It perhaps was the worse with Todrick since he was the most outlandish character and when it came time to remind you Lola aka Simon, was not just someone there for your entertainment, it fell flat. Hall seemed out of his element and while he knew his lines he couldn’t convey emotion. For between a limited amount of time his child actor counterpart had to build his past, and Simon Sr. not being a big enough role to juice things up, we got the broken man without the backstory and Hall isn’t at that place where he could compensate for a story flaw.

On The Fence

The Love Story

Alongside saving the factory, and the life and antics of Lola, there is a love story in the musical. Problem is, between Nicola and Lauren it doesn’t give you the feels. Nicola, you don’t understand how Charlie fell in love with and as for Lauren, her falling for him seems like it is for the sake of having a female lead more than anything. Like many a shallow romance in media, we learn nothing about her besides she is a supportive love interest and her life begins and ends when the conversation deals with Charlie and the factory.

Overall: Positive (See Live)

Though the character’s dramatic story, and Hall’s performance doing so, is lacking, when it comes to the laughs, the songs, and dancing, Lola, and her Angels compensate for most of the iffy parts of the musical. Of which I want to say is thanks to Hall for, again, while dramatic roles may not be something he is ready for, he does present Lola in such a way where she isn’t a caricature or a joke. She is just a humorous person with an extroverted personality. One which not only drives your butt to your seat but makes you want to clap, howl, and feel justified in paying $70+ for your ticket (Mine was like $127).

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