BWW Review: KINKY BOOTS Returns With All the Same Sparkle and Joy

When I saw Kinky Boots here in Chicago during its pre-Broadway tryouts, I left the theatre with a huge smile on my face. While the show does have its share of heavier moments, it is also full of so much joy. As it returns for a short run to the Oriental Theatre, I was thrilled to see it maintained the same sense of wit and sentiment that it had in 2012.

The story follows Charlie Price, who takes on the family shoe business (Price & Son) after his father's death. Due to many setbacks and sagging sales, the factory looks doomed to close. Upon a chance meeting with the dazzling Lola, a performer of extraordinary talents, the pair goes into business for its new niche market. The stiletto "kinky boots" become the company's signature style. Charlie and Lola's unlikely partnership turns the factory, its workers, and the town upside down.

With a message of acceptance, being who you are, and changing the world, Kinky Boots is the right show for these often tumultuous times.

With a book by four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein and a score by Grammy® Award-winner Cyndi Lauper (Tony Award-winner for Best Score for Kinky Boots), the show finds a perfect balance of laughs and sincerity in its words and songs. Lauper's score is filled with tunes that have you dancing in your seat, laughing out loud, and wiping a tear from your eye. There are several numbers where you can almost hear Lauper belting them out with her own iconic vocals.

J. Harrison Ghee has the attitude and the heart to fill the big boots of Lola. Whether he's dressed in a gown or a simple suit, his performance hits every note. It's hard to take your eyes off of him. His voice soars on numbers like Not My Father's Son and Hold Me in Your Heart. And when he goes full on diva in Sex is in the Heel or Land of Lola, you want to stand, applaud, and cheer for more.

As Charlie Price, Adam Kaplan's boyish charm hooks you from the beginning. His journey breaks your heart as he tries to find himself in the new role that has been thrust upon him. When he sings Soul of a Man with such tremendous spirit, you see a transformed man who finally realizes the strength that he has inside.

There is terrific chemistry between Kaplan and Ghee that makes you root for their friendship throughout their journey.

Tiffany Engen is perfect as Lauren, the factory worker who falls for Charlie. Her comedic timing is right on target and her solo, The History of Wrong Guys, is just pure fun to watch. She lights up the stage with hilarious facial expressions and dance moves in each of her scenes.

As Don, Aaron Walpole's bullying start gives way to a warmhearted bloke who is willing to take the advice he's given. Walpole has great sincerity in the role and you only wish he had more solo time to showcase his booming voice.

Before it went to Broadway, I thought the boxing scene where Lola takes on Don slowed the show down a bit. Whether or not changes were made, this time around it felt much tighter and more entertaining. Lola's girls shine in this scene, as they do in many others. Each of them have a sparkling presence that make the show that much more entertaining and mesmerizing.

Here through Sunday, this Kinky Boots is definitely worth seeing. Grab a ticket, lace up your stiletto thigh highs, cover yourself in sequins, and try to resist jumping on stage to dance during the finale of Raise You Up.


PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Tuesday at 7:30 PM
Wednesday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM
Thursday at 7:30 PM
Friday at 7:30 PM
Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM
Sunday at 2 PM

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for Kinky Boots at the Oriental Theatre range from $25-$98. A select number of premium tickets are available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

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From This Author Patrick Rybarczyk

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