Kinky Boots

By Tyler

On Tuesday, July 18th, Hannah and I saw Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre. We had wanted to see this show together for a while, and we thought that tonight, when we had an unexpected free night, was the night. Kinky Boots is a musical with book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. First produced in 2013, this show tells the story of heir to the Price and Sons shoe factory, Charlie, and his struggle to live up to, and save, his father’s factory. Along his life’s journey, Charlie meets drag queen, Lola, who helps him shake up his factory and become his next partner-in-crime. What a fantastic experience I had! I raved about it to everyone on the trip, and the same process will certainly happen in the states. Maybe I was too entranced with the spectacle before my eyes, but this show was nothing BUT effective.

For starters, the lighting was extremely effective. I don’t know if I have seen a show yet where, when watching, I have gotten distracted and entranced by the lighting. I mean, I wonder how long it took to make all those cues! At some points the lighting felt like a rock concert, and at other points it felt like a love ballad. The fact that the designer could make the audience think that way is incredible. (And don’t even get me started on how well the light glistened off the dresses and boots in the final number!) Another part of the show that was effective for me was the dancing. This show’s moves were infectious; from beginning to end the dancing is what kept the pace of the show going. The choreographer used the entire stage for all their big numbers that created a visual adornment to the audience. Not to mention that some of the cast members were performing dance-intensive numbers in stiletto high heels. Everyone committed to their dancing, and their expressions and quality of their work was present.

One aspect of the show that I did not notice how much I appreciated until curtain call was the costumes. This show primarily takes place in a “drab, dull, and dumpy” shoe factory. The stage is engulfed in colors like rust, dingy green, and brown. The costume’s colors completely contrasted with the set colors, especially when Lola starts working at the factory. It made me recognize that everyone’s attitude in the factory shifted once they had more vibrant colors in the work area. That was effective for me because the costumes helped tell the show. If you only looked at the character’s costume transitions, you could piece this entire show together. The costumes play a big part in the narrative of this musical. But, perhaps the MOST effective aspect of this show for me was the book and lyrics. There has been a lot of performances today that are centered around equal rights (which is wonderful), but this musical was focused beyond the cookie-cutter response of “it brings awareness.” The heart of this musical is not about equal rights or awareness; it is about treating someone with respect and compassion even if their lifestyle does not line up with yours. There is a beautiful moment in the production where Simon (who is Lola when he dresses in drag) sings about not living up to his father’s expectations on what a man should be (“Not My Father’s Son”). This was the first part of the musical where the audience was implicated into the song. Sure, Simon was talking about his father, but I think he could also be metatheatrically addressing us: don’t rain on someone else’s parade if they don’t line up with yours. This musical was one of the most “honest” ones I have watched. There was not a time where I questioned the material, rather questioned how I can take the material to better my awareness to these issues.

I could literally talk about this show non-stop, but I have spared you the important aspects. If there was one ineffective part in the show, I would need to go back and look for it. I was so entranced by the power of the words and the spectacle happening before me all I could gather was effective. I have been thinking about this show well beyond the time I saw it and will continue to do so as new memories and allusions pop up.

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