Kinky Boots,
extravagant choreography

Tony winning musical at PDA boots it out of the park

By Byron Toben

Extravagant choreography is one highlight of this big musical Kinky Boots. A cast of 32, a live orchestra of nine and lots of props (including a conveyor belt!) make this an expensive touring company, justifying the high prices for the ‘merch’ sold outside the entrance.

Kinkt Boots WestmountMag.ca

J. Harrison Ghee as Lola

I didn’t spot any choreographer credits in the printed program, so give kudos to dance captain Alex Dreshke for keeping things moving with fast paced steps, wiggles, turns and acrobatic cart wheels… much in high heels.

Kinky Boots adds to the growing number of stage musicals which were first movies instead of the other way around. This trend originated I believe, with the 1942 42nd Street and includes such mega hits as The Lion King.

The book here is by Harvey Fierstein who has made a career out of shows involving drag queens… Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and such. Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper which feature her distinctive 80s and 90s beat. For a gal “who just wants to have fun” she must have enjoyed herself on this one, winning a 2013 Tony for the score (the only time a woman has done so on her own). The show won 6 Tonys overall.

 

Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper which feature her distinctive 80s and 90s beat.

Kinkt Boots WestmountMag.ca

Curt Hansen as Charlie Price

The show features twelve songs plus two reprises.

Plot wise, based on a true story in midlands England, a longstanding shoe manufacturing company suffers the death of its founder. His young son Charlie Price (likeable Curt Hansen) inherits. While strolling the dark streets, he is injured by some thugs while attempting to intervene in a mugging. The victim, Simon (tall J. Harrison Ghee) takes him to a nightclub to recover. Turns out that Simon is a star drag Queen, called Lola. Lola’s crew of six supporting Queens are called the Angels. I plead guilty to trying to figure out from my mid parterre seat which ones of the lovelies might be natural born women (turns out none of them).

Lola complains about the imported cheap high heeled shoes they are using. You can figure out the rest from that as they evolve into a partnership to produce high quality but also glittery footwear. Along the way, Charlie loses his architect fiancé Nicola (raven haired Katerina Papacostas) who wants to sell the factory to a condo developer, but gains another girlfriend in his employee Lauren (blondish Rose Hemmingway). A boxing match against male chauvinist Don (chunky Aaron Walpole) and a triumphant fashion show in Milan also figure in the mix.

All in all, a “gotta dance, gotta sing” feeling which goes back to the 1951 Singing in the Rain.

The full company voices three of the songs, the opening Price and Son Theme followed by The Most Beautiful Thing in the World and the rousing finale Raise You Up/Just Be. Charlie solos in Soul of a Man and duals with Lola in Not My Father’s Son. Lola is involved in most of the songs but gets an extended applause for the touching single Hold Me In Your Heart.

The opening night audience seemed ecstatic and I was swept up in the moment, but kept thinking Charlie should have accepted that condo deal and still could have used part of the windfall to acquire another factory to produce the thigh high goods. All in all, a “gotta dance, gotta sing” feeling which goes back (with more melody) to the 1951 Singing in the Rain. Take a gander here to the wonderful team of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse whose gorgeous gams are tipped by mere ankle high green footwear.

Kinky Boots continues at the Place des Arts until January 8.
Information and tickets at 514-842-2112 or placedesarts.com

Images: Matthew Murphy


Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club



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