Theatre Review – “Kinky Boots” at Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco

interior-logo

Written by guest author: Mitchell Stevko

Not since Dorothy and Oz, have a pair of red shoes shone so brightly in a musical.

Except in this case, the red shoes are Kinky Boots, the 2013 Tony award winning best musical that opened December 2014 at The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.  This is a fantastic show that delivers spectacular, catchy songs, a great story, tons of laughs, and of course, fabulous drag queens in outlandish costumes. I really connected personally with one of the shows themes, about not meeting a parents expectations of who you will and should be, and accepting yourself fully in spite of that.

Kinky Boots is based on the 2005 indie film about a men’s shoe factory in a UK factory town that’s going out of business, until the new owner Charlie meets drag queen Lola in London and realizes there is an opportunity to sell upscale women’s boots to cross-dressing men.

The show’s music is for me the biggest start of the show.  It’s fun, catchy, it’s got heart, and it’s written by pop icon and first time musical theatre score composer Cyndi Lauper (remember “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”). From the opening number “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World (is a shoe)” to the hand clapping anthem finale “Raise You Up” (a funky groove about accepting yourself and others) the songs really leave the crowd on super upbeat, feel good highs. Lauper integrates many styles we have been used to hearing in modern musicals, including rock, pop, acoustic, techno, folk, and classic showtune belting.

The touring cast for Kinky Boots delivers the goods with strong vocal, acting and dance performances, with many touching, funny and inspirational moments. Any of the leads in this show could do the role on Broadway, and I predict most of them probably will. Kyle Taylor Parker, as Lola, was an Angel in the original Broadway cast and a standby for Lola, and brings a well-balanced amount of swagger, empathy and dead-pan one liner delivery to the role. He got a three minute ovation for “Hold Me in Your Heart”.

Steven Booth plays Charlie, the reluctant hero son of the fallen shoe store factory owner. He previously played Rod in Avenue Q on Broadway, and delivered incredibly powerful vocal performances and was an affable Charlie. His “Soul of a Man” (a soaring power rock ballad), was another show stopper and one of my all time favorites . Lindsay Nicole Booth plays Lauren, the factory worker/love triangle interest with Charlie and she delivers many laughs on her hilarious solo number “The History of Wrong Guys”.

The fourth star of the stage were the six drag queens, the totally over the top, “I’d like to see you try this in six inch heels” dancing Angels, played fabulously by: Darius Harper, Tommy Martinez, Nick McGough, Ricky Schroeder, Juan Torres-Falcon, and Hernando Umana. Now, these are guys that dress like girls that just wanna have fun, and every scene they are in, they completely light up the stage.  Joe Coots does a fine job as Don, the factory worker that just doesn’t get “blokes wearing dresses”. Broadway veteran Craig Waletzko has several great lines as factory foreman George. Grace Stockdale is deliciously unforgiving as Charley’s girlfriend Nicola.

You have another great script by Tony winning playwright Harvey Firestein (Hairspray, La Cage aux Folles) that’s filled with humor, empathy, and positive messages about self-acceptance and accepting others. Direction is crisp and the show is well paced by Broadway director Jerry Mitchell, and has outstanding musical arrangement by Stephen Oremus (Wicked, Book of Mormon).

Costumes by Gregg Barnes are, well, kinky, bright and fantastic. Sets and set changes integrate well thanks to David Rockwell, and lighting by Kenneth Posner sets the right mood. Kudos also to Hair by Josh Marquette and make-up by Randy Houston Mercer.

This is a must see musical that will entertain you with all the things a truly great musical has to offer: catchy songs, great story, inspiring message, humor, strong acting and singing, great dancing and costumes. So few musicals deliver on all these markers, but Kinky Boots is as shiny and eye catching as the boots featured in the show.

If you love musicals, like musicals, or think you may like musicals, go see Kinky Boots

Advertisements

One thought on “Theatre Review – “Kinky Boots” at Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco

  1. I saw this musical in NY and really enjoyed it. I agree with you that it is very entertaining and all of the things you listed. I would highly recommend it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s