Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
(Based on the Miramax motion picture by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth)
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street
Stark Sands and Billy Porter
Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Music Supervision, Arrangements, Orchestrations by Stephen Oremus
Annaleigh Ashford, Celina Carvajal,
Daniel Stewart Sherman, Marcus Neville
And an Ensemble of Dancers/Singers/Actors
Scenic Design: David Rockwell
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Sound Design: John Shivers
Production Stage Manager: Lois L. Griffing
Casting: Telsey + Co./Justin Huff/CSA
Associate Producer: Amuse Inc.
Press: O&M Co.
Advertising & Marketing: SPOTCO
Hair Design: Josh Marquette
Makeup Design: Randy Houston Mercer
Assoc. Choreographer: Rusty Mowery
Music Director: Brian Usifer
Music Coordinator: Michael Keller
General Management: Foresight Theatrical/Aaron Lustbader
Technical Supervisor: Christopher C. Smith
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 6, 2013 Matinee
My guest and I had a blast at today’s matinee of the new Harvey Fierstein-Cyndi Lauper extravaganza, aka Kinky Boots. This is a show for everyone that likes to feel the mood, here upbeat and powerful, thanks to Ms. Lauper’s music and lyrics driving the emotions and energy. Songs like “Everybody Say Yeah” and “Hold Me In Your Heart” were just two that come to mind, with a rousing, rollicking chorus. Jerry Mitchell’s direction and choreography are incomparable, with fast spinning, high kicking dancers, all wearing stiletto-heeled, colorful boots. The boot motif in this show is derived from the celebration of a struggling shoe factory in working-class, Northampton, England to gain success in fabricating high heeled sequined boots for the Angels, a drag ensemble of London club entertainers. The wide shift in socio-political mindset is reminiscent of the cast of Billy Elliott ultimately dancing in tutus. Here the cast of factory shoe designers and manufacturers, salespeople and seamstresses, morph from red-neck bullies to red-boot buddies.
When Mr. Price (Stephen Berger), the founder and boss of Price & Son shoe factory, suddenly dies and leaves the company to his son Charlie (Stark Sands), whose fiancée Nicola (Celina Carvajal) tries to force him to sell the company and move to London, Charlie is faced with firing workers, as the elegant men’s shoe line isn’t moving out of its elegant brown boxes. He needs ideas. In London, Charlie happens upon Lola (Billy Porter), who, with her Angels (an ensemble of six men), are cross-dressing divas, drag queens, and seven of the best Broadway dancers I’ve seen this season. Lola coincidentally complains that the high ladies boots worn in their act keep breaking and collapsing, because they don’t fit men’s legs. Charlie is inspired, with the help of his most ardent and hilarious fan, Lauren (Annaleigh Ashford), to create fancy diva boots for a fancy diva drag show. Lauren has a show-stopping number, “The History of Wrong Guys”, that brings the audience to a roar. Another quasi show-stopper is “What a Woman Wants”, and here the sequined red boots are born. Lola had rejected high heeled men’s leather boots, because (another show-stopper) “Sex Is In the Heel”.
One number after the other drove the momentum for this show, that’s already drawing long lines around the corner. Billy Porter appears in drag and in standard men’s costuming. His transformation, visually, emotionally, and energetically is astounding. As the man, he shares loss, rejection, and miraculously finding his father, with poignancy and pathos. As the diva Lola, he’s sexy, sassy, and sensational. He’s all muscle and every bit the creation of Harvey Fierstein, who’s been a grand diva, himself. Every character is endearing and engaging, with Ms. Ashford now a rising star. Mr. Sands plays it low-key and natural, but his big number, “The Soul of a Man”, is sung with mesmerizing clarity and charm. Daniel Stewart Sherman (Don) delves into his factory worker character with so much charisma that I look forward to seeing him in future roles. Celina Carvajal, as the self-centered, self-serving, soon-to-be-dumped fiancée, played it with requisite brashness. When the full cast performed the closer, “Raise You Up/Just Be”, with extra curtain calls, I thought the audience would never leave. They felt the mood.
Jerry Mitchell deserves kudos for his meshing of acting, singing, and dancing that transformed the simple, fantasy story (based on the 2005 Miramax film) into a grand Broadway experience. The Fierstein-Lauper collaboration of book, music, and lyrics should be repeated again soon, as they now have a built-in audience raring for a sequel, even a show with a new plot and characters. Mitchell-Fierstein-Lauper is a winning team. Stephen Oremus’ orchestrations enhanced the event, while David Rockwell’s shoe factory and multi-level stairs and conveyor belts, that showcased the cast and their ravishing boots, were outstanding. Gregg Barnes’ extravagant boots are already icons, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sold in designer lines very soon, both for male and female divas alike. John Shivers’ sound design started much too loudly, but was toned down as the show progressed. Josh Marquette and Randy Houston Mercer did hair and makeup with masterful results. Kudos to the Angels, and kudos to all.
Stark Sands, Billy Porter, The Angels,
and cast of "Kinky Boots"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy.
Stark Sands, Annaleigh Ashford,
and Billy Porter in "Kinky Boots"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy.