Almost a Good Fit – KINKY BOOTS

Photo via http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/media.php

Photo via http://kinkybootsthemusical.com/media.php

Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Music orchestrator/arranger/supervisor: Stephen Oremus
Music direction by Brian Usifer
Directed/choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Associate direction by DB Bonds
Associate choreography by Rusty Mowery

August 11 – 30, 2015
Boston Opera House
Boston, MA
Kinky Boots online

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) It’s amazing that even a play that prominently features a singing and dancing troupe of transvestites (gay or straight) can still be primarily about helping a heterosexual white male self-actualize and grow up. It’s as if Kinky Boots celebrity writer Harvey Fierstein and his musical partner Cyndi Lauper were given a directive to adhere to some guy version of the Bechdel test.

That would be fine, except that the book, and this touring production, fail to give us a heterosexual male lead worthy of our focus. Instead, the role of Charlie Price (Nick Sullivan), a young man who inherits a failing shoe factory and converts it t make footwear for female impersonators, feels just like a stand-in for all the man-boys who must grow up in other plays. It’s as if you could read his description at the start of the script as “A guy who’s like the Hugh Grant character in Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Sullivan doesn’t do much to rise above the stock character label, and it sometimes feels like the excellent supporting cast is basing their actions around an imaginary character.

Luckily, the three-ring circus that surrounds Charlie is enough to keep us entertained during this winsome, if not memorable, little musical. Kyle Taylor Parker seems to avoid making the central transvestite character of Lola a stock character as well, largely by providing full-on energy with every step and utterance on stage. Equally impressive is Lindsay Nicole Chambers’ job of transforming the factory version of the manic pixie girl into someone we want to see succeed in her pursuit of Charlie, even if we don’t know why.

The pace of the show hummed along like an assembly line, a bit like the story. Also, the set was very nicely done, if also equally uninspired. In all, this was the perfect big box Broadway touring show that you can say you’ve seen, but you will fail to remember in 10 years time.

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