Kinky Boots Taps Lots of Clichés

Kinky Boots Taps Lots of Clichés
Matthew Murphy

Kinky Boots, now playing at Music Hall at Fair Park, is a size 6 show in a size 13 production. What a minor piece of musical theater, blown up and spread out on a big stage. And what a major disappointment for a show that won Tony Awards in 2013 for best new musical and for its songs by pop singer Cyndi Lauper (with book by Harvey Fierstein).

Based on a sleeper-hit 2005 indie movie, but trading the film's heart and good acting for broadly emoted commercial schlock, the musical is a by-the-numbers assemblage of elements from better Broadway hits. The Full Monty, Hairspray, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, La Cage aux Folles - throw some working class blokes together with gay gays and sing about being yourself, loving what you thought you hated, wearing feathers and dancing to disco.

Kinky Boots is really Billy Elliot in different footwear. Instead of a white British boy who wants to dance ballet, it's a black British drag queen, Lola (played with sass by the long-legged J. Harrison Ghee), who needs stronger heels for her club act. Charlie (exceedingly bland Steven Booth) puts his rundown family-owned shoe factory back to work making sparkly boots for Lola and her troupe. And everybody sings about "What a Woman Wants" and how "Sex Is in the Heel" in an over-synthesized, unmemorable score (with only five musicians in the pit, most of the work is done by a computerized mush of tinny chords).

The large cast stomps on the British accents. The terrible sound system at the Music Hall muddles words spoken and sung. There's one fun dance number done on movable treadmills (choreography is by director Jerry Mitchell), but there's little else original or interesting about Kinky Boots.

Kinky Boots continues through March 8 at Fair Park Music Hall, 909 First Ave., Dallas. Tickets, $25-$103, dallassummermusicals.org or 214-346-3300.


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