Broadway Across Canada’s ‘Kinky Boots’ Struts its Stuff

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Back in 2013, Kinky Boots premiered on Broadway with music by Cindy Lauper. It was her first venture into writing music for a Broadway show and it went well as the production won a Tony Award for best score and best musical. The musical is based on the 2005 British film which is inspired by true events and now Broadway Across Canada is presenting the musical at the Jubilee Auditorium. Overall, Kinky Boots is about finding your passion, being able to see the humanity in someone else and overcoming stereotypes. It’s a good theme for the present day, to look at someone else and see their humanity and to think about embracing our differences.

The musical tells of Charlie Price (Ciarán McCarthy) who inherits his father’s shoe factory. It isn’t exactly what he wants to be doing, but he gets thrown into the role of running the business when his father passes away suddenly. Charlie has to lay off his workers, as Price & Sons isn’t making money but after speaking to Lauren (Rose Hemingway), a factory worker, he starts thinking about repivoting the business model. Specifically, he thinks of getting together with Lola, (J. Harrison Ghee) a drag queen he met earlier, to design boots for drag queens. Lola needs a bit of convincing but winds up agreeing to be a designer of ‘kinky boots.’ Things don’t go smoothly especially between Lola and Don (Aaron Walpole), another worker in the factory, but Lola tries to exemplify the idea of accepting people for who they are and this lesson keeps popping up throughout the musical.

Cindy Lauper’s music and lyrics are catchy, especially “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World,” and “Everybody say Yeah.” The cast has boundless energy and the music gives them ample opportunity to show off their vocal skills. And they most certainly do. McCarthy steps up as Charlie Price, as he is the understudy and the audience would never know. Hemingway is quirky and she has powerful vocal skills, and it’s her portrayal of Lauren that allows the audience to mostly buy the romantic storyline between them. Ghee has the vocals and the stage presence as Lola, and it is always fun when he’s on stage, though his solo performance of “Hold me in Your Heart” is a bit spastic in delivery.

David Rockwell’s scenic design with Kenneth Posner’s lighting design deliver in the fashion runway scene and Lola’s Angels deliver some smart dance moves. Kinky Boots is a strong production, with some impeccable vocals, but it seems to lack a little bit of punch. It should be all glitz, all glam, with an almost over the top production value. Broadway Across Canada’s production is a lot of fun, with great music and singing. It just seems to not be powerful as it could be.

Broadway Across Canada’s production of Kinky Boots runs at the Jubilee Auditorium until February 26. More information is available online.

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