Theatre Review: Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots, Toronto, Mirvish Productions. TheSceneinTO.com

The Canadian Cast of Kinky Boots will leave you wanting to return again and again.

Mirvish’s Kinky Boots leaves you feeling good and wanting to dance in the streets

It’s no fluke that the team at Mirvish chose to premiere their latest hit, Kinky Boots on the same day as Toronto’s massive Pride Parade. It’s also no exaggeration to say that the show is as big a hit at the fête itself—it’s poignant, pure joy, and so well done. No one however, could have known just how of-the-moment the timing of the release would be, with the U.S Supreme Court officially ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, literally two days previous.

Kinky Boots is based on the book of the same name, by Harvey Fierstein of La Cage aux Folles fame (also featuring drag queens), and coincidentally(?) Newsies, Mirvish’s next scheduled production. Cyndi Lauper is the show’s composer and lyricist, the music winning Lauper both a Grammy and a Tony.

One of the pleasures of musical theatre is that it allows us the luxury of getting lost in the story as it unfolds on stage. This award-winning musical focuses on real world, current affairs. Economic strife, struggles for acceptance, self-doubt, consumerism, bigotry.

Alan Mingo Jr (Lola) and Graham Scott Fleming (Charlie) in the Canadian Production of Kinky Boots. theSceneinTO.com

Mingo Jr. and Fleming work seamlessly together. They mesh and feed off of one another, making their interactions on stage feel truly authentic.

As in so many other dramas, Boots pairs an outwardly unlikely alliance, the straight-laced and reluctant new business owner Charlie (Graham Scott Fleming), and the brash and sassy transvestite Lola, aka Simon (Alan Mingo Jr.). But of course, look beyond the surface and find two young men, at similar stages in their lives, both struggling to rise up from under the weight of their fathers, looking to leave their own unique imprint on the world around them.

Charlie finds himself the successor to the family shoe factory, stepping in just as the business is on its last legs. Through a chance meeting, he happens upon Lola and they form an immediate bond, working together to breathe new life into the enterprise. Regular brogues aren’t selling the way they used to? How about boots? Kinky boots. The kind of boots that can stand up the weight of a man while oozing irresistible sex-appeal. Ever relevant, everyone seems to have to create their own niche market in today’s oversaturated world of consumption.

The show’s theme of economic struggle, and the need to reinvent a business in order to survive, touches home as we hear that Canada may slip into another recession.

Fleming and Mingo work seamlessly together, they mesh and seem to feed off of one another, making their interactions on stage feel

Kinky Boots, Angels. Mirvish. TheSceneinTO.com

Lola and her Angels are all sass and thoroughly irresistible.

truly authentic.They are supported by a perfectly selected cast, including Daniel Williston as the initially homophobic and brutish Don, James Kall as the sweet factory manager George, and the scene stealers, Lola’s group of drag queens, the Angels. These guys absolutely shine on stage, their physicality, phenomenal. Each of the Angels held their own, but I must give extra kudos to David Lopez, because I could not take my eyes off of him with each of his sultry sashays across the stage. My only complaint—and there are many who will disagree—was AJ Bridal’s over-the-top characterization of Lauren, Charlie’s eventual love interest. I found aspects of her performance inauthentic, and overdone, particularly her Lauper-esque vocalizations.

Lauper, punk-pop princess of the 1980s, shared a rainy day with the citizens and visitors of Toronto, smiling, waving and dancing from a float for the parade, while a handsome gent held an umbrella over her to spare her from the downpour. Later that evening, she stopped and posed for pictures on the Kinky Boots pre-show red carpet. And although she’s likely seen the production a number of times, when she appeared on stage for the curtain call, she was genuinely overcome with emotion. She gave us an amazing soundtrack, and Toronto showed her love, for that, for her, for everything.

Another wonderful aspect of Boots, is that it evokes a plethora of feelings throughout, from comedy, concern, sadness, heartache and back to comedy. And isn’t that what we want from a night at the theatre? To feel? As Lauper so famously reminded us, “girls just wanna have fun,” and with Kinky Boots, have fun you will.

Kinky Boots plays at the Royal Alexandra Theatre now through November 8. For tickets, visit: http://www.mirvish.com/

About The Author

Janelle Watkins
Editorial Director

Janelle Watkins is a citizen of the world who has lived both a charmed and stormy life. She has worked as a personal shopper, journalist, has done extensive work in marketing communications, and public relations. These experiences have seen her working alongside prominent leaders from the fashion, culinary, art and media worlds. This bon vivant would like to add some flair to her readers’ lives and loves to get their feedback. On everyday life she sums up, “Live life in your own style, be true to yourself – be distinct.” Favourite place in Toronto: Strolling around the Yonge/Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant Village neighbourhoods with a David’s Tea and two special little someones.

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