Review: Kinky Boots

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Kinky Boots, at TPAC Feb. 3 - 8, is a rollicking musical with a powerful message.

TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:
Kinky Boots (Feb. 3 – 8; Ages 12 and older)

TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tpac.org
Remaining show times: Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $42.50 – $92.50

… a wildly fun musical with lots of pizzazz!

A wildly fun musical with lots of pizzazz is on stage at TPAC this week with the much-anticipated arrival of the Broadway tour of Kinky Boots. It’s no wonder that Kinky Boots is the recipient of six Tony Awards — including Best Musical and Best Score — given the production’s creative team: Harvey Fierstein wrote the book and pop icon Cyndi Lauper wrote the music and lyrics (in fact, Lauper’s Tony win marked the first time a woman won alone in the Best Score category).

Based on the 2005 British film of the same name, Kinky Boots is inspired by a true story, and at its heart are powerful elements: self-acceptance and accepting others despite their differences … and appreciating the uniqueness of each other. The show follows the story of Charlie Price (Steven Booth), a young man who inherits his father’s waning shoe factory business. In order to save the company, Price strikes up an unlikely partnership with Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a drag queen who becomes the head designer for a new line of thigh-high fancy footwear that’s both glamorous and sturdy enough for female impersonators.

As their partnership and friendship grow, Charlie and Lola discover that despite their differences, they have a lot more in common than expected (“Not My Father’s Son”).

Ghee is the bona fide star of the show, delivering a strong, over-the-top performance throughout the show, which one expects of a drag performer. Ghee’s captivating stage presence is immense in vocal numbers, choreography and overall attitude, and he endears the audience to Lola right from the start.

While Booth is a definite talent, his performance at times does suffer from under direction. While the audience understands Charlie’s situation, Booth doesn’t give enough to his role consistently to draw the audience to Charlie enough to really pull for him with deep emotion.

Lauper’s indelible music stamp on the show is amazing. From rollicking numbers like “Sex is in the Heel,” “Everybody Say Yeah” and “Raise You Up/Just Be” to heartfelt tunes like “Soul of a Man” and “Hold Me in Your Heart,” each number greatly propels the show’s story arc. In addition, Gregg Barnes’ dazzling costume design and David Rockwell’s set add lots of bling to the stage (including several conveyor belt components on which the cast performs slickly choreographed moments), and by the end, you’ll be up on your feet dancing along with the cast on stage.

Kinky Boots is pure fun, and families with older kids are sure to enjoy the experience. It also makes a memorable date night with your significant other.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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