“Kinky Boots” is a spectacular show for ladies, gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their mind

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There's five drag queens on stage with the main character in the center
Kinky Boots: Bucks County Playhouse photo by Joan Marcus
The cast on stage, two of them holding one tall red boot
Kinky Boots: Bucks County Playhouse photo by Joan Marcus

Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, has turned its sights to a big, splashy musical, premiering right at the end of Pride Month. They’ve come up with a spectacular production of Kinky Boots, based on the movie of the same name. It’s must-see entertainment with a serious lesson at its center.

With a book by multiple Tony® Award winner Harvey Fierstein and a Tony® Award-winning score by Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots deftly combines the serious with the splashy. Both parts are allowed to make their points, providing the audience with a terrific night out in the theatre — and something to think about on their way home.

The action of Kinky Boots takes place in the British city of Northampton, where Charlie Price (Jimmy Brewer) inherits the job of running the family shoe factory. With non-existent sales, Charlie is faced with having to close the factory and fire its entire work staff. Lauren, an assembly line worker (Scarlett Walker), tells Charlie he can save the company by finding a niche market for the company’s footwear.

A chance encounter in London ends up with Charlie meeting Lola (Richard E. Waits), a drag entertainer who complains about the high-heeled boots she and her backup drag performers wear. Charlie brings Lola to the factory to design the type of sexy, kinky boots that will bear a man’s weight without collapsing — his niche market. As Charlie and the factory staff race to be able to present their new line at a prestigious Milan footwear show, tempers flare and nerves fray to the point that Lola and the factory workers walk out.

Lauper’s score, her first for Broadway, combines high-energy numbers with deeply emotional ballads. In the former category, stand-outs are “Land of Lola,” an introductory number for Lola and her Angels (the extraordinary Kyle Caress, Michael Francis McBride, Emilio Ramos, and William Roberson); “Everybody Say Yeah,” a celebratory song as the first pair of kinky boots is made; “In This Corner,” a choreographed fight between Lola and Don, the factory foreman (Michael Thatcher); and the finale, “Raise You Up/Just Be,” performed by the entire company.  In the latter category are such numbers as “I’m Not My Father’s Son,” in which Charlie and Lola find common ground in how they dealt with their fathers’ ambitions for them; “So Long, Charlie,” sung by Charlie’s self-centered fiance, Nicola (Mikaela Nina Secada), urging him to abandon the company while he’s under immense stress; and “Hold Me in Your Heart”, Lola’s song of love and acceptance.

The show is played out on an inventive set designed by Anna Grigo and lit by Kirk Bookman. The costumes, ranging from glittery drag outfits to factory workers’ wear, are the work of designer Haydee Zelideth Antuñano, while make-up, hair, and wig designs were done by Earon Chew Nealey. The talented cast was guided by co-directors Sheryl Kaller and Hope Boykin, with Boykin creating the dynamic choreography. Chris Burcheri led a six-piece ensemble that was more than up to the task of creating the full soundscape the show required.

The full cast on stage
Kinky Boots: Bucks County Playhouse photo by Joan Marcus

In my opinion, Bucks County Playhouse made a better choice in presenting a movie-to-stage adaptation like Kinky Boots than the larger Paper Mill Playhouse did with their season closer, Sister Act. Smart audiences will quickly snap up tickets and make the trek to New Hope, PA, to enjoy this lively, reality-based musical tale. I strongly recommend seeing Kinky Boots before its run ends!

Kinky Boots is presented by the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, until July 30th. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 215-862-2121 or visit BucksCountyPlayhouse.org. The playhouse requires the wearing of masks while in the building.