Add to Your Must-See List: “Kinky Boots” Broadway Show with Music by Cyndi Lauper

Events - October 11th, 2016
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When it comes to musicals, there’s always at least one person or character who steals the show. In the case of Broadway hit “Kinky Boots” – which is currently showing at Tokyo’s Theatre Orb – that character is undoubtedly Lola.

A drag queen with a stage-dominating personality and a penchant for lipstick-red thigh-high boots, Lola is like Whitney Houston and Ru Paul rolled into one. You simply cannot take your eyes off her – even when she’s not in drag and introducing herself as “Simon.” So it’s no surprise that her character was partly what inspired the creation of the musical in 2005.

Back then, the story had just been released as a British film of the same name. Inspired by true events, it tells the tale of Charlie Price, who inherits his father’s shoe factory and has to come up with a way to save the business from closing down. He happens to meet Lola, and the pair form an unlikely partnership, producing a range of glammed-up high-heel boots for transvestites and drag performers.

 

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When producer Hal Luftig saw the film in London, he immediately felt that “its heart and humanity (and bigger-than-life leading ‘lady’) would translate well to musical theatre.” By 2006, he had partnered with producer Daryl Roth to adapt the film to stage, and a couple of years later they assembled a team consisting of director Jerry Mitchell, writer Harvey Fierstein, and pop singer Cyndi Lauper who wrote the music and lyrics – and did such a sterling job of it that in 2013, after “Kinky Boots” debuted on Broadway, she won a Tony for Best Score, making her the first woman to ever win alone in that category.

Even if you’ve already seen the film, the musical is more than worth watching. Aside from touring cast member J. Harrison Ghee’s superb performance as Lola, and Lauper’s infectious score, the stage version also expands upon the emotional journey. In Fierstein’s own words, the film was more “about the saving of a factory” while the musical includes “drag queens singing as they pass along the assembly line.” He also noted that the musical is “at its core, about two young men who come from seemingly opposite worlds who figure out that they have a lot in common, beginning with the need to stand up to their dads.”

On this note, we must give a nod to Adam Kaplan, who plays Charlie Price. Although his character and talent are somewhat overshadowed by Harrison Ghee’s magnetic Lola (like we said, Lola is something special), he comes into his own during the heartstring-tugging musical number “Not My Father’s Son,” showing off a crisp voice and more emotional depth. In Act 2, the entire cast ups their game, adding energy and spirit to the stage, which also undergoes a massive transformation from the interior of an aging shoe factory to a Milan runway that’s bright and glitzy – which is also how you’re likely to feel as you dance out of the theater.

Kinky Boots is showing at Tokyu Theatre Orb until October 30, 2016. More details here.

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tokyo weekender kinky boots