Review Roundup: KINKY BOOTS on Tour!
Kinky Boots, the smash-hit musical that brings together four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (Book) and Grammy® Award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper (Tony® Award-winner for Best Score for Kinky Boots), kicked off its national tour this fall in Las Vegas, and it continues to other United States west coast stops in Tempe, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Costa Mesa before heading east in 2015. The full tour route can be found at www.kinkybootsthemusical.com.
As previously announced, Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots, In the Heights national tour), one of the Angels in the original Broadway company, struts his stuff as Lola - something he has done to great acclaim on several occasions in New York as the Lola understudy. Steven Booth (Avenue Q, Glory Days, Dogfight) stars as shoe factory owner Charlie Price. Parker and Booth are joined by Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Lysistrata Jones) as Lauren, Joe Coots (TV's "Inside Amy Schumer," Full Monty national tour) as Don, Craig Waletzko (Guys & Dolls, Young Frankenstein) as George and Grace Stockdale in her touring debut as Nicola.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Mulhern, BroadwayWorld: The national tour or the smash-hit musical, KINKY BOOTS (with book by Harvey Fierstein and score by Cyndi Lauper) plays now until November 9th at the Buell Theatre of the Denver Center. 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.
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: The acting is superlative from Parker as Lola and Booth as Charlie. Parker's Lola is cool and sassy. But, he must show Simon's insecurity, and somehow magically brings the two sides together into a perfect fit, like the boots themselves. Booth adds intensity to Charlie who feels his manhood change as he must let go of Nicola and find his own image as a working man, outside his father's shadow. Other standouts in the cast are Stockdale and Chambers. Chambers is precious with "The History of Wrong Guys", making Lauren's inner expression of love totally magical. Coots is simply dynamite as Don, the bully with a heart of gold. Praise to the entire triple threat ensemble!
Jordan Riefe, Hollywood Reporter: As Charlie, Steven Booth (Glory Days, Avenue Q) struggles with a British accent, (as does most of the cast), at times slipping into an unfortunate Paul McCartney-like Liverpudlian brogue. He is a bit mushy at first but earns the audience's empathy in good time, playing a pale Yin to the Yang of Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker). Parker played one of the Angels (Lola's drag cohorts) on Broadway while understudying Lola. But the road show is his place to shine and shine he does, sort of. There's something hesitant about his performance, and if there's one thing drag queens are not known for its restraint. Parker nonetheless anchors the play ably enough, and though he never seems to own the role, he has a strong voice and nails his second act solo, "Hold Me in Your Heart."
James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune: "Kinky Boots" is one show that also feels as if it lives its own message of celebrating difference and acceptance - taking into its egalitarian embrace an ensemble of multiple shapes, sizes and skin colors. Lola's hard-earned philosophy just about says it all: "Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken."
Jacob Coakley, Las Vegas Weekly: The performances match the costume for sparkle. Steven Booth's Charlie is meant to be a bit dull (the better to show off Kyle Taylor Parker's Lola), yet Booth's plaintive, expressive voice shines in "Not My Father's Son" and "Soul of a Man." Still, the show belongs to Lola. Parker's unflagging energy, sultry voice and eloquent body language are equally at home doing drag numbers, torch songs or showing the intense discomfort of a three-piece suit. Accompanied by her Angels (Darius Harper, Tommy Martinez, Nick McGough, Ricky Schroeder, Juan Torres-Falcon, Hernando Umana), she provides particularly acrobatic highlights during "Sex Is in the Heel" and "Everybody Say Yeah"-the OK Go-inspired first-act closer featuring a treadmill-like assembly line. And Lindsay Nicole Chambers is a delight as Lauren, the comic relief love interest.
Kerry Lengel, The Republic: Despite the fiery showstopper "Sex Is in the Heel," however, "Kinky Boots" is surprisingly short on sex appeal, and the cheerleaderish troupe of drag queens called Angels don't have any of the transgressive appeal of the Cagelles from Fierstein's earlier hit "La Cage aux Folles." I didn't see the show in New York, but based on the national tour, the most surprising of "Kinky Boots' " Tony wins is the one for choreography. The act one closer, "Everybody Say Yeah," is an energetic crowd-pleaser with the cast strutting OK Go-style on a series of conveyor belts, but most of the dances are a lazy hodgepodge of sashaying clichés that, if you broke them out on "RuPaul's Drag Race," would quickly have you lip-syncing for your life.
Claudia Carbone, Examiner: Every cast member is superb, every song is meaningful. Lindsay Nicole Chambers as Lauren cracks up the audience with her dramatically funny rendition of "The History of Wrong Guys." With the best full-cast finale since Mamma Mia, Kinky Boots leaves one feeling like they need to go out and buy a pair of red stilettos. It's a happy place to be.
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: In a first act in which the energy felt flat, this building duet and Chamber's funny, charming rendition of the crush song, "The History of Wrong Guys," promised better things to come. They did. "Kinky Boots" hits its stride in the second act, even in the tantalizing, teetering, towering boots, as it heads for a celebratory pageant of a finale.