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Feb 12

Why Kinky Boots Deserved The Grammy, and Everything Else Ever

“This is theater.”

After seeing Kinky Boots on Broadway for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking that. I expect a lot when I see a musical. Of course, I want to be entertained, but I want it to change something for me. Theater is life, and by seeing a show, I’m glimpsing into another world and taking that experience with me. I would hope that experience would change my perspective. I’ve noticed that some contemporary musicals have lost sight of this, but definitely not Kinky Boots.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Kinky Boots yet, it follows Charlie Price, the son of Price & Son, when he decides to quit the shoe factory to move with his girlfriend. Unfortunate circumstances align, and he is forced to take over the factory to save the workers, people he has known his whole life, and save his father’s legacy. The business continues to fail until he bumps into the vibrant Lola, a drag queen, who gives him the idea to manufacture high-heeled boots for men, starting a very interesting partnership.

It certainly sounds like an odd plot, and it is, but yet there is nothing more relatable. When Lola faces scrutiny at the factory, her message, “You change the world when you change your mind,” first appears. The gravity of this is almost immeasurable, assigning whomever is at the end of it with complete responsibility. “YOU change the world when YOU change your mind.” Though some can initially perceive Lola as shocking, the antithesis of acceptable, this musical isn’t done with any excess crassness or vulgarity, because it doesn’t need to hide behind that. Any initial judgements the audience may have against Lola are immediately humiliated. This is so important in our society today, where prejudice is rampant, no matter what opinion is being held. Intelligent discussions are ruined with anger and hatred, defeating the purpose of them in the first place. Lola proves to us that having an open mind does not mean giving up your opinion, it means strengthening it.

With this intense of a message, Kinky Boots might have been unrelatable and insincere, and that’s where Cyndi Lauper’s brilliant score comes in. With a sound unlike any other musical, Lauper creates a score equal parts hilarious, entertaining, poignant and beautiful. The upbeat songs have a very 1980’s-esque energy that propels the plot at high speed, with lyrics hilarious and enticing. Lola’s songs are a highlight, full of depth and vibrance. She also manages to compose ballads with tunes and messages so beautiful, that I am still strongly affected by them today. The closing number, Raise You Up/ Just Be, leaves the audience both at a loss of words and energized.

From performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving’s Parade to the pre-game show at the Superbowl, even the most closed-minded of society can receive the message Kinky Boots has to offer, delivered in a genuinely refreshing way. And that change of perspective, most definitely, is theatre.

Photo by Broadway.com

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