Kinky Boots Reminds Us of What’s Really Important.

-Brenda Hillegas
(photo by Matt Crockett)

Lola, the drag queen from London, encourages these six steps to success and happiness:

1. Pursue the truth
2. Learn something new
3. Accept yourself and you’ll accept others too
4. Let love shine
5. Let pride be your guide

6. Change the world when you change your mind

Lola says: Just be. Who you wanna be. Never let them tell you who you oughta be. Just be. With dignity. Celebrate yourself triumphantly.

These are the clear messages made throughout Kinky Boots– the story of a failing shoe factory and the heir’s quest to find a niche market and rise to the top again. As a chance encounter occurs, and since all great stories need a dynamic duo, Lola enters from the big city to teach small town Charlie and his employees the importance of thinking outside of the box. At the same time, Kinky Boots celebrates individuality and challenges the show’s characters to encourage acceptance, love people for who they are, look out for one another, and to just be yourself. We soon learn that Charlie and Lola aren’t actually so different after all.

On Broadway, Kinky Boots was an underdog that ended up winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical. The story itself began many years before that as a 1999 episode of the BBC series Trouble at the Top featured the true story of Steve Pateman, a man struggling to save his family’s shoe business. Like the musical, he decided to tap into a niche market by creating fetish footwear for men. This, of course, inspired a 2005 British film which was spotted by Tony-winning producer Daryl Roth at Sundance. With Harvey Fierstein on hand to write the book and Cyndi Lauper hired to write lyrics, the two create what we now see today on stage.

Lance Bordelon plays Charlie Price, Jos N. Banks plays Lola. Both are stellar in their roles and the chemistry is a match made in theatre heaven. Kinky Boots is a blast. It’s funny. It has fantastic dance numbers, great vocals, and incredibly sparkling costumes. You can see it here in Philly at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music until October 8th. See it, then spread Lola’s message to the universe.

During the show, a character reads a note- “accept someone for who they are.” The audience breaks out in a strong round of applause. While this is a no-brainer and something we should all be doing all the time, it’s also a message that we as a society unfortunately need to be remind of constantly. Kinky Boots seems to have left last night’s audience with a warm fuzzy feeling as they stepped out onto Broad Street for the trek home. As all good musicals should.

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