Dallas Summer Musical's “Kinky Boots”

 

            The Broadway Touring show of “Kinky Boots” is playing at Fair Park Music Hall, and it's a flashy, glitzy, slightly raucous, feel-good show that resonates at surprisingly emotional levels.

            It's based on the 2005 film by the same name, which in turn was based on a true story.  Charlie Price (Curt Hansen) has inherited a shoe company from his father, who inherited it from his father.  But times have changed.  Nobody really wants the kind of quality, but clunky, men's workboots that they're selling, because they're available much cheaper elsewhere (another instance of the big discount stores driving out the Mom and Pop small businesses).  Worse, Charlie's fiancee wants Charlie to sell the factory to a condominium developer so they can move to London. 

            But just when things seem to be dying for lack of imagination, in roars Lola (Timothy Ware), a transvestite dancer who commands the stage, along with her “Angel” chorus.  They're outrageous and fun and loud and “out there” and everything Charlie isn't.  But it seems they need specialized boots for their performances which they can't find anywhere, and Charlie needs a new market.  Lola even has designing talent, but of course things are never that easy.  Lola has a hard time adjusting to the “ordinary” workday routine, and Charlie's perfectionism and intransigence threaten to derail everything.  And the Tony-Award-winning musical score from Cyndi Lauper expresses the full range of emotion from all the characters.

            But Charlie and Lola have something very basic in common:  loving a father who made them feel like a disappointment.  Both, in their own ways, have tried to find their true selves, but it's a painful process, because it involves adjusting their own expectations of themselves.  So we start with Oscar Wilde's quote “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”  And we move toward “Celebrate you to elevate you.”  And then along the way, the challenge is to “accept someone else for who they are.”

            Timothy Ware simply steals this show.  His performance as Lola just rocks the house, and the audience was not only cheering his acting and singing, but even his entrances and exits.  There are some very lively ensemble dancing sequences, and a couple of killer ballads, but mostly this show is just one big affirmation of accepting everybody as they are.  Yes, love wins. 

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  When have you had difficulty with others' expectations of you?

2)                  When have you had difficulty with your own expectations for yourself?

3)                  What progress has been made in our society toward acceptance of divergent lifestyles, and what progress still needs to be made?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association