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BWW Review: Toronto Says 'YEAH' To Kinky Boots

5 out of 5 stars

There's a party happening every day at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto - and that party is the Canadian production of Kinky Boots which opened Sunday night. The mostly Canadian cast, save for American newcomer Alan Mingo Jr. as Lola earned a standing ovation from the opening night audience.

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Sons. With the factory's future hanging in the balance after Charlie's father's death, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola - a fabulous drag queen in need of some more supportive footwear.

The show has an incredible and memorable score written by Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics). Lauper's tunes are infectious, and you'll leave the theatre not knowing which song to hum first. She manages to weave in everything for pop and rock to country with a splash of polka - and it all works brilliantly.

Kinky Boots' book was written by Harvey Fierstein, whom Toronto audiences will remember for having played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof here a few years back. Fierstein is also the book writer for Newsies, which will also soon be playing Toronto. Fierstein's book is well crafted; he's a master of storytelling. There are no two dimensional characters in this musical - and Fierstein manages to really bring the heart out of the story.

The production is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray). Mitchell knows how to make a hit, and this show is no exception. Mitchell keep the momentum going with his perfectly spaced, high energy dance numbers featuring all sorts of styles and tricks. There's never a dull moment.

Having seen this show on Broadway shortly after the Tony Awards, I was interested to see how the Toronto production would compare. The Toronto production is better than Broadway!

What is already a fantastic show is truly elevated above and beyond the Broadway version by the incredible cast that has been assembled here.

Alan Mingo Jr. brings a unique flare to Lola - the London-based drag queen who saves the factory. He's a true triple threat with singing and dancing chops that would make any pop star jealous. His tender moments in book scenes will bring a tear to your eyes.

Graham Scott Fleming is outstanding in his role as new factory owner Charlie Price. Fleming reminds me of Stark Sands - who originated the role on Broadway. They are equaled in the vocals department, with Fleming, in my opinion being the superior actor.

AJ Bridel manages to completely reinvent the role of Lauren, a factory worker who comes up with the idea to find a new niche market to make a product for - while hiding the fact she's falling for Charlie. Bridel stole every scene she was in, and had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand during her big number "The History of Wrong Guys."

The rest of the ensemble features Vanessa Sears, James Kall, Thomas Alderson, Andre Anthony, Nicola Dawn Brook, Patrick Cook, Arden Couturier, Dan Domenech, Lisa Horner, David Houle, Eric Leclair, David Lopez, Stewart Adam McKensy, Julia Mclellan, Kristen Peace, Erica Peck, Andrew Scanlon, David Silvestri, Isaiah Slater, Jivaro Smith, Justin Stadnyk, Kaden Stephen, Geoff Stevens, Madeleine Suddaby, Jesse Weafer,Cleopatra Williams, Ryan Wilson and Sandy Winsby.

Do yourself a favour and check out Kinky Boots in Toronto before it concludes its run on September 27th. For tickets and more information visit Mirvish.com.

Photo: The Canadian Cast of Kinky Boots - Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann



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From This Author Alan Henry