BWW Review: KINKY BOOTS at The Kentucky Center For The Arts
After over four years since it's Broadway debut, Kinky Boots has finally made it's way to Louisville in the closing week of the 1st National Tour. While I would've loved it to come here sooner, it was definitely worth the wait.
The show (based in the 2005 British film that was inspired by actual events) has been kicking around since late 2012 during it's Pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago. A few months later, the show would transfer to Broadway, winning several accolades including six Tony Awards (including the all powerful Best Musical award). Since then, the show has had and is having several international companies including London's West End, Tokyo, Australia, Korea, and a German company opening later this year. By all means, Kinky Boots has firmly cemented it's place in musical theatre history.
The show opens on a Price & Son, a shoe company located in North Hampton. We meet Mr. Price, his son Charlie (Curt Hansen), and a myriad of kooky characters working at the factory. Charlie tells his father he's leaving to live in London with his fiancé Nicola (Katerina Papacostas) and work at a marketing firm. Soon after Charlie leaves, he gets news that his father has died. Upon returning to the factory, he finds it in trouble. With sales no where near as good as they once were, it seems that Charlie is faced with having to close Price & Son for good. After he comes to this realization, a chance run in with a drag queen named Lola (Timothy Ware) changes his perspective of making shoes, and with Lola and his friend and factory worker Lauren (Rose Hemingway), they hatch an ingenious idea that might just save the factory.
Full disclosure, I've been a massive fan of this show since it premiered on Broadway. I was lucky enough to see the original cast, and the show has been a favorite for sometime. Then in early 2016 after 2.5 years, I revisited the show in Cincinnati and was blown away again. So, as you could imagine, my expectations for the tour's closing cast was pretty high. While nothing can ever recreate the magic of my first time, the touring company here in Louisville does not disappoint. Standout of the night is quite obviously, and rightfully, Timothy Ware. He is absolutely electric as Lola. Everytime he graces the stage, the audience is locked in on him. He commands the stage, and trust me, the audience is better for it. His highlights were for me were "Sex is in the Heel" and his beautiful Whitney Houston-like 11 'o'clock number "Hold Me in Your Heart". The other standout was the absolutely hilarious Rose Hemingway as Lauren. She gets one number to really sell ("The History of Wrong Guys"), and lord does she sell it for every comedic dollar it's worth. Aaron Walpole as Don does a commendable job with a small, but integral character. Curt Hansen as Charlie was very good. If I'm being honest, I wasn't completely sold on him right away. His voice is very interesting, and I wasn't quite sure if I liked it until we arrived at "Soul of a Man", where he virtually blows the roof off of the theatre. I'll be damned if I'm not going to give a shout out to the wonderful ensemble including the bad ass and fabulous Angels (Lola's entourage of drag performers).
The technical elements are just stunning, starting with the flawless costume design by Greg Barnes. Even if you hate everything else (why would you), you will adore these brilliant costumes. Director/Choreographer Jerry Mitchell knows exactly how to put on a big flashy Broadway show, and Kinky Boots is no exception. His staging is sleek, while his production numbers are absolutely everything a show should be. That little known singer/songwriter Cyndi Lauper's score is downright infectious. I dare anyone to leave without at least 3 tunes stuck in your head. Harvey Fierstein's book is funny, witty, and touching, everything a great musical comedy should be.
Wrapping things up, you (yeah you reading this) would be an absolute fool to miss out on Kinky Boots before it's gone. It's themes of love, acceptance, and self expression are exactly what we need right now. I would highly recommend this to families. Please don't let the title scare you away. There is nothing vulgar about the show. It's good clean fun that anyone would appreciate. Let it be known that Kinky Boots isn't a feel good musical, it's a feel fabulous musical!
June 13 - 18, 2017
Whitney Hall in The Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202