Stage Review

Kinky Boots (2013)

KINKY BOOTS Kick up your high heels for Cyndi Lauper's new musical and its infectious pop score (Billy Porter, in star-making role as drag queen…
Image credit: Matthew Murphy
KINKY BOOTS Kick up your high heels for Cyndi Lauper's new musical and its infectious pop score (Billy Porter, in star-making role as drag queen Lola, pictured)
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Opening Date: Apr 04, 2013; Lead Performances: Annaleigh Ashford, Billy Porter and Stark Sands; Writers: Harvey Fierstein, Cyndi Lauper; Director: Jerry Mitchell; Genre: Musical

Sometimes audiences just wanna have fun. And you'd be a heel not to have fun at Kinky Boots, a new musical based on the 2005 British indie film about an unlikely bromance between a young man who inherits his family's failing shoe business and the drag queen who, in her words, ''would give my left tit for a shoe that could stand up to me.'' One cause for celebration is the infectious Top 40-ish score by '80s pop star Cyndi Lauper. Another is Billy Porter, who portrays drag queen Lola with enough sequined swagger to make RuPaul look like a wallflower.

Yes, the story tends to flag when the focus shifts to the reluctant shoemaker, Charlie, played by the sweet-voiced Stark Sands (American Idiot) with boy-next-door winsomeness. Charlie's saddled with a too-obviously-unsuitable fiancée (Celina Carvajal) and a factory love interest (Annaleigh Ashford, who nails her hilarious first-act solo, ''The History of Wrong Guys''). There's even a working-class bloke (Daniel Stewart Sherman) who must learn an after-school-special-worthy lesson in tolerance by the final curtain. Like the script, by Broadway veteran Harvey Fierstein (Newsies), director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell's production isn't perfect — the cast's British accents are as wobbly as an elephant in stilettos.

Whenever Porter is on stage, though, he elevates a musical that might otherwise seem like a club-ready mash-up of La Cage aux Folles, The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, and Cabaret. Porter displays remarkable vocal versatility, making showstoppers out of three very different but equally catchy Lauper tunes: the disco song ''Sex Is in the Heel,'' the affecting ballad ''I'm Not My Father's Son,'' and the Whitney Houston-like anthem ''Hold Me in Your Heart.'' Thanks to Porter's star-making turn, Kinky Boots delivers some pumps-up kicks. B+

(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800-432-7250)

Originally posted Apr 04, 2013
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