NME After Print: Kinky Boots (Review)


My relationship with Kinky Boots has been a roller coaster since 2005. My other publication, PRIDE & Equality magazine, was given the opportunity to review the movie. I read the description and thought to myself, "Eh, I'll pass." Fast forward a few months later, I found a DVD, giving the film a chance. The decision not to review was a big one. I would never pass on an opportunity again.

I am a fan of Kinky Boots. I love the movie! The storyline is amazing. It wasn't a surprise it became a musical. Neither is having Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein at the helm. I watched as it won awards and stars like Billy Porter and Todrick Hall took on the role of the vivacious Lola. When I found out that it was making its way to Popejoy Hall, I wasn't going to miss it.

Along with my kids, who are also fans of the film, we made our way to Popejoy, as we always do on Media Night, to witness what could be a total hit or miss of one of our favorite films. They've transformed the stage into the Price & Sons Shoe Company with a simple backdrop of the building. After being reminded by one of the cast members to silence our phones, the show begins. I found myself listening to discover what dialogue from the film was kept and how the songs work with the storyline. "The Most Beautiful Thing in the World" got across how the people in the factory felt about their job, even though Charlie, played by Connor Alston, had to remind them - they're singing about shoes. Although silly, the song expressed what the musical would soon make their focus. Following a dream - a passion - is one of the greatest feelings one can experience, even if it is for shoes. When Charlie is faced with the future of the business, does he move forward with his move to London and his impending engagement to Nicola? Or, will Charlie be the stand-up son and take over the business?

The answer comes in the form of Lola, played by Albuquerque native, Kenneth Mosley. Introduced through the song "Land of Lola," a funk ballad, it perfectly presented the larger-than-life character. Those who know me know I can be a stickler when it comes to choreography and although Mosley was not as a grand with his movements as the queens, the Angels (who are fierce) who performed back up behind him, Lola was not necessarily about choreography. She was always about the presence and voice, and Mosley had it in spades. The vocals were impeccable. Mosley gives the audience a clear idea of who Lola is - a beautiful individual with a sensibility to see emotion and life for all sides.

With Charlie needing a niche market and Lola providing him with that market, they join forces to save the shoe factory with their new product, Kinky Boots. "The Sex is in the Heel" is one of the most perfectly, merged ways of taking one of the most vivid scenes of the film and combining it in song. The cast worked well together to create an exciting and impressive number for that scene.

While Allston and Mosley were standouts in the production, Lauren, played by Karis Gallant, was a pleasant surprise. Lauren is a presence in the stage production - fully developed and showing all facets of her character: the love, the insecurities, and the frustration of working with and being in love with Charlie. In "The History of Wrong Guys," she shows all the problems women go through when finding that special someone.

Another character I was impressed with the transition from film to stage was Don, played by James Fairchild. Don still remained the brash, boorish, and lowbrow individual he was portrayed as in the film. Another character I was impressed with the transition from film to stage was Don, played by James Fairchild. Don is still a crass individual. With the musical, however, Fairchild gave Don even further depth, as seen in the scene between Lola and Don after the boxing match. The moment was brilliant, full of heart, and showed Don was on the road of change. Fairchilds still had moments of outrage towards his treatment of Lola but showed the tenderness he has deep within. He gives more surprises at the end of the show. I won't give anything away. You'll have to see for yourself.

Two moments of the show moved me. One was the duet between Mosley and Allston in "Not My Father's Son." It was a haunting and beautiful combination expressing what both characters had in common - their need for approval from fathers. Mosley channeled Billy Porter for me at that moment. So full of life and open to sharing those deep thoughts he felt. Allston showed a sensitive side, letting the audience know you can always find common ground, even in the most difficult and saddest of experiences. Allston's performance of "The Soul of a Man" has him coming to terms with how much he's given and feels that is never enough, Allston poured his soul and emotion into that song and left it on the stage. Another standout moment for Mosley is his performance of "Hold Me in your Heart." If Whitney Houston and Gladys Knight had a baby, Mosley would be the result. That number and scene were so incredibly powerful that it brought a tear to the eye of everyone in the room.

The show has some creative moments in terms of how they handle a number. "In this Corner" showed an entertaining boxing match done in a way that that was so inventive it left you wanting more. In the number "Everybody Say Yeah," you see the energy and stamina the cast put into the show, performing intricate choreography while performing on conveyor belts. The song, "Raise you up/Just Be," is an anthem - the perfect way to end the show on a powerful message - acceptance.

Kinky Boots provides some memorable moments, outrageous outfits, and, of course, some gorgeous boots. But also a message. We must learn to accept others as they are and find commonality, even with your brothers from another mother. I highly encourage you to get your tickets now and experience the magic.

Let it raise you up.

Tickets for Kinky Boots are available at https://unmtickets.com/pop-mar07/

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