Skip to main content

Exuberant, Moving, Red-Hot: 'Kinky Boots' at 5th Avenue Theatre

Perfect date night with your partner, friend or maybe teen

Published on: October 17, 2014


Photo by Matthew Murphy

Bottom line

In need of a night out with a partner, friend or just yourself? You can’t miss with Kinky Boots, an exuberant traveling production of the Tony-Award-winning musical  at the 5th Avenue through Oct. 26. The musical, based on a British film, tells the unexpected tale of two young men – one the owner of a shoe factory, one a drag queen – who team up to create a one-of-a-kind new product: a glittering pair of stiletto-heeled, thigh-high red boots designed for cross-dressing men.

The acting, music (score by Cyndi Lauper) and choreography are never anything less than top notch, and the story is deeply satisfying, both moving and laugh-out-loud funny. As for family friendliness: It might be a fun night out with mature teens and tweens (more on that below), but it is rated PG-13.

Highlights

At the beginning of the show, the curtains open onto a semi-industrial setting, a shoe factory set in the working-class English town of Northampton. We quickly meet two young boys: Little Charlie Price, wandering the factory owned by his dad; and another young boy on the sidelines, gazing longingly at a pair of bright-red high-heeled shoes. (That’s foreshadowing, people.)

Cut to about 15 years later. Twentysomething Charlie (Steven Booth) is shaking the dust of Northampton off his shoes: he’s moving to London with his fiancée, sharp-witted, shallow Nicola. But after the death of his father, Charlie returns to Northampton and decides to give the shoe business a go after all — partly because he can’t bear to lay off the people he grew up with. The dilemma: Price and Son’s main product, men’s dress shoes, is not selling.

A chance encounter with a feisty drag queen named Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker, reprising his role on Broadway) leads Charlie to an inspired new idea for serving a niche market: make high-heeled boots strong enough to support men like Lola. Charlie makes the initial prototype in burgundy instead of red, which triggers one of the show's liveliest and funniest numbers. Burgundy, Lola proclaims to Charlie, is the color of “hot-water bottles” — while true red is the color of sex. And make no mistake: they're selling sex.

After this misstep, Charlie drafts Lola as head kinky-boot designer and they get to work. Eventually, they come up with a product that isn't just a pair of boots, but, as Lola puts it, “two-and-a-half feet of irresistible, tubular sex.” 

The performances are as red-hot as the boots themselves: As Lola, Kyle Taylor Parker, not surprisingly, could carry the show on his own, and is able to tone it down when needed, such as a moving number where he and Charlie remember their respective relationships with their dads, Not My Father’s Son.

As Charlie, Steven Booth is just as extraordinary in his less-flashy role; and even smaller roles such as Charlie’s goofy factory sweetheart Lauren and Don, the beer-bellied factory worker who challenges Lola, are fully realized. The drag-queen chorus is fantastic — and just so you know, back handsprings in stilettos are possible.

Should you take your kids?

If you're considering taking kids, read through The 5th Avenue Theatre's content advisories.

The show is rated PG-13, which seems fair, though it would be fine for some tweens. Although there is lots of talk of sex as a marketing concept, the script never discusses specifics and the only actual physical contact is a chaste kiss or two.

Thoughtful kids will enjoy discussing some of the more poignant plot points, such as Lola’s struggles against discrimination. That said, I’d recommend it as a date or friend night.

Cool side note: The story is based on a true event.

If you go ...

When: Kinky Boots plays at the 5th Avenue Theatre through Sunday, Oct. 26.

Length: 2 hours, 27 minutes, including intermission

Tickets: Buy online. $49.25 and up.

Tips: Park a few blocks away so you can get out of the garage faster. For a quick bite before, Rock Bottom Brewery is across the street. We walked a few blocks for an outstanding Japanese meal at Japonessa.

 

Share this article with your friends!

Leave a Comment