Theater Review: "Kinky Boots"

"Kinky Boots" plays Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6 pm at the Civic Theatre.
Photo credit:
BroadwaySD

Better hurry. Lola is back in those crotch-high red boots, but only through Sunday at San Diego Civic Theatre.

The smash Broadway musical that shows how seven-inch stilettos can save a faltering British show factory is a visual banquet of outrageous shoes (okay, boots) and the confidence (not to mention balance) it takes to wear them.

You remember the plot: Charlie Price (Curt Hansen), son of a shoe magnate,  moves to London with social-climbing girlfriend Nicola (Katerina Papacostas) to get away from the shoe biz (he plans a career in real estate) – only to get the fateful call that dad has died unexpectedly.

What to do?

He goes home, and in the process of trying to fire the employees, one of them suggests a switch to a niche market. This reminds Charlie of Lola (Timothy Ware), the drag queen who saved him from a mugging in London. Lola had mentioned that she needs sturdier stilettos.

Charlie forsakes real estate for the niche shoe biz, Nicola ditches Charlie for social climbing in London, and Lola and Charlie form a mutually beneficial partnership. A whole new company is born (Lola’s Kinky Boots), jobs are saved and Charlie hires Lola as designer and – let’s face it – PR guru (“Sex Is In The Heel,” Lola advises).

Based on the 2005 film that starred Joel Edgerton and Chiewetel Ejiofor, “Kinky Boots” features the bouncy, rhythmic songs of Cyndi Lauper and the Tony-winning direction and choreography of Jerry Mitchell and a fine nine-member live orchestra led by Roberto Sinha.  

And Lola, of course, surrounded by a talented cast that can sing, dance and even do flips and the splits – in heels.

Gregg Barnes’ costumes speak as much to class differences between, say, Nicola and the working-class Brits like burly factory worker Don (a terrific Sam Zeller in the performance I saw) as do the accents (yes, be prepared to play Prof. Higgins and figure out where each character is from by his accent).

Civic Theatre seems to have solved the deafening sound system I usually complain about.

The problem with this show is those accents that tend to impede comprehension. But by now, it’s likely that audiences are largely composed of people who know the show and just want the reliable visual jolt that is definitely on display.

Hansen is great as the timid, play-by-the-rules Charlie who meets and is changed by Ware, equally excellent as the in-your-face Lola, who demands – and gets – respect.

There’s even a message here, about being who you are (“Just Be”) and accepting those who are different, but you’ll be in this audience for the fun and spectacle.

You won’t be disappointed.

The details

“Kinky Boots” plays through March 12, 2017 at San Diego Civic Theatre, 3rd and B Streets, downtown.

Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6 pm

Tickets: (619) 570-1100 or broadwaysd.com