A ‘kinky revolution’ comes to Pittsburgh

Kailey Love/Photo Editor “Kinky Boots” first premiered as a musical in 2012. It is based off of a 2005 Golden Globe nominated British comedy-drama of the same name.

Kailey Love/Photo Editor
“Kinky Boots” first premiered as a musical in 2012. It is based off of a 2005 Golden Globe nominated British comedy-drama of the same name.

By Leonardo Sanchez | Staff Writer

Charlie Price shouts that there is a “kinky revolution” going on during the “Kinky Boots” showstopper number at the end of the first act — and indeed there is. With music and lyrics by ’80s diva Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, Broadway hit “Kinky Boots” premiered at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Sept. 20, for a six-day run in Pittsburgh, fascinating the audience with its sensuality.

The 2013 Best Musical Tony winner takes place in Northampton, England, where a family-owned shoe factory is struggling not to close its doors. One step away from bankruptcy, Charlie Price (Adam Kaplan) meets Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a drag queen who inspires the businessman to diversify his products and add a breath of fresh air to his family’s shoe legacy.

Touring the United States since 2014, and with two other productions being currently staged in New York and London, “Kinky Boots” is a funny, heartwarming musical that exhales sexiness. The award-winning show may not have a deep, consistent storyline, but it is able to compensate for its lack of complexity by having an original approach to sexuality and gender-related themes.

Things start off slowly, but the audience is soon struck by the liveliness of drag queen Lola’s world. Her terrific, glamorous musical numbers are guaranteed to make everyone excited over what is still to come, and the costumes and sets used by her squad give life and soul to the show. They brilliantly contrast with the monotonous beginning of “Kinky Boots” and the monochromatic design of Price & Son’s factory.

Ghee plays a key role in assuring the enchantment and charm of the musical. Not only does he have some of the funniest, most provocative lines of the show, but he also does a terrific job stepping into Lola’s shoes — or, in this case, boots. The same goes for Kaplan and his powerful voice, as well as Tiffany Engen’s humor in her role as Lauren, a factory worker who falls in love with Charlie.

“Kinky Boots” deals with a delicate subject and constantly echoes the acceptance speech of another Tony winner, “Billy Elliot.” Elton John’s British musical bets on its sensibility and subtlety to debate sexuality, while Cyndi Lauper’s show is built on boldness and fun. Both musicals have a similar, stereotype-breaking proposal but choose different approaches to it.

“Kinky Boots” even tries to mirror “Billy Elliot’s” sentiment and power, but its dramatic numbers end up not fitting the show’s cheerful atmosphere. It is definitely a story made for laughter and celebration.

The musical’s highlight, however, is probably its choreography, which goes perfectly with its funny and smart lyrics. Every dance number is extroverted and provocative, and is accompanied by a wonderful score full of pop influence. Cyndi Lauper surely leaves her signature on the show, turning it into a unique experience, especially when compared to other mainstream Broadway hits. Some of the songs are truly a glittery fanfarre, guaranteed to make the audience laugh and rejoice.

Charlie and Lola’s story gets more emotional toward the end, and even though the musical’s climax is weak and easily solved, the story continues to be an inspiring and entertaining tale of diversity. The show ends with a touching and powerful lesson about respect and need for change, and it is a delightful experience to any kind of audience.

Kinkyness ends Sept. 25 when “Kinky Boots” plays its final performance in Pittsburgh and sets sail for Japan. The musical returns to American ground on Nov.r 29, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tickets are still available for the remaining performances in Pittsburgh.

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