If I had Cyndi Lauper pen a bonus track for the hit Broadway production “Kinky Boots,” it would be called, “Everyone Has Their Moment!” The tune would embody the story of stage veteran Billy Porter, who is certainly having his moment leading the cast in this musical extravaganza.
“Kinky Boots” is all about Porter, who plays the tough-as-nails, sassy, witty Lola—a drag queen who once thought he was going to become a boxer.
With Beyoncé-like fierceness—though he physically resembles Mary J. Blige—and antics that are a dead-ringer for veteran Hollywood actress Jenifer Lewis (“Jackie’s Back”), Porter is immaculate as he delivers complicated dance choreography, impassioned monologues and songs that leave you wondering why his career as an R&B did garner him more acclaim. His work in “Kinky Boots” has, however, landed him a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. He has already won a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award for the role this year.
“Kinky Boots” is based on the 2005 British film by the same name about a British shoe factory on the brink of closing until it rebrands itself by selling niche market footwear. Written by Harvey Fierstein and featuring all original music by Lauper, this story of persistence and self-acceptance comes to life when NBA-sized men in stilettos strut their way onto the stage.
The show is flamboyant, fast and full of catchy—sometimes emotional—songs that have the audience dancing, clapping and roaring with thunderous applause.
From heartfelt ballads like ‘I’m Not My Father’s Son,’ to the sexy upbeat ‘The Sex Is in the Heel,’ the disco-friendly ‘Raise You Up/Just Be,’ and the Middle Eastern-influenced ‘What a Woman Wants,’ Lauper has penned a musical melting pot that encompasses countless genres for “Kinky Boots.” The musical highlight of the show—and “Kinky Boots’” “And I Am Telling You” moment—is the power ballad, ‘Hold Me in Your Heart.'”
Broadway actor Stark Sands, who also starred in the production “American Idiot,” is stellar in “Kinky Boots” as well. His character Charlie has a real story arc, and Sands is effective is bringing to life the full spectrum of his emotions. His pop-friendly interpretation of the Lauper music is the perfect contrast to the soulful, spine-tingling delivery from Porter.
“Kinky Boots” is campy, colorful and creatively genius. Despite the men in high heels, this message isn’t alternative—its story of compassion, reinvention and acceptance is for the masses!
See the show for yourself at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre and you’ll quickly understand why it landed 13 Tony Award nominations.