The thunderous roar at the end of the opening performance of Kinky Boots last night was deafening. The audience was on its feet long before the final bow. And here’s why.
The touring company’s production of Kinky Boots has all the energy, music, and comic timing that you would expect from a show that walked away with six Tony Awards and a Grammy when it first hit Broadway in 2012. With music by pop star Cyndi Lauper and the book by the legendary Harvey Fierstein, what else would you expect other than a night of sheer entertainment and, in this case, an important message as well?
Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots tells the tale of Charlie Price who is desperate to save his late father’s bankrupt men’s shoe factory, Price & Son, in Northampton, England. Charlie and his father had a strained relationship and deep down, Charlie doesn’t feel he can live up to his father’s expectations.
The same thought holds true for Lola (aka Simon, as we learn later), a drag queen, whose father taught him boxing when he was young in attempt to make him act more like a typical guy. Charlie and Lola meet outside a pub in London when Charlie tries to save him from a couple of thugs. In the process, Lola breaks the heel on one of her stiletto boots.
Charlie realizes he has to find a way to make shoes for an underserved niche market in order to save his company, and remembers Lola and those stilettos. That’s where Lola steps in, literally, to help design stiletto books that look like a woman’s boot but have a heel that will support a man in drag. As they work together, they discover they share more in common than they imagined possible.
This huge cast is filled with talent, from the factory workers to the Angels (a group of drag queens that perform with Lola). In fact the Angels steal pretty much every scene they appear in. They are so, so much fun to watch. Of particular note, Roanoke native Tony D’alelio is an Angel in this production. (He’s the shortest member of the crew and is wearing an auburn wig.)
Other standouts in the production include Rose Hemingway as factory worker Lauren who has a secret crush on Charlie. She camps it up in the hilarious number “The History of Wrong Guys.”
Aaron Walpole brings on the macho in his role as factory foreman, Don, who has no tolerance for drag queens in the beginning. His character does a complete turnaround in the show, and his scene during the finale is a real hoot.
Curt Hansen strikes all the right chords in his role as Charlie who is confused as to what he wants and who he really is. He has a great voice and presence on stage.
The night, however, goes to Timothy Ware who plays Lola with such spunk and pizazz that you immediately want to be best friends with this saucy drag queen. Ware lights up the stage and brings down the house. He is a true craftsman at work. If he doesn’t put a smile on your face, no one can.
There are so many reasons why you should go to see this show. Go for the fun, the music, the acting, the comedy and the heart of the production – a message that resonates with everyone: You change the world when you change your mind.
Kinky Boots runs through Sunday, June 4 at Altria Theater. For tickets and showtimes, visit Altria Theater. The show is suitable for families with kids twelve and up.