The Wheel and Axle

Mighty Big Boots To Fill

by on Jul.24, 2017, under Music & Theater, Queer

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From Atlantis’ FB Page

2005’s Kinky Boots is one of my favorite LGBT-themed films ever. Heck, it’s one of my favorite films, period. It’s funny, touching, and uplifting all at once. This was a time before Joel Edgerton ever became Ramses and Chiwetel Ejiofor ever became Baron Mordo. The film itself is something I can watch over and over without getting tired of it.

So obviously, Kinky Boots the Musical has absolutely big shoes (boots?) to fill in my eyes. True, it won Tonys, Oliviers, a Grammy, and more. Plus, hello, Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein, duh. I have not seen it on Broadway – it’s on my bucket list – but I managed to catch the matinee of the Manila production last Saturday afternoon with my friend AJ.

The verdict?

Big shoes absolutely filled fantastically!

And such a perfect analogy, to boot (heh).

The story itself is about two different offspring who are trying to live up to the expectations of their respective fathers: Charlie Price, a rather spoiled young man who is the heir to a struggling Northampton shoe factory that has been in the family for many generations; and Lola, a fabulous and mouthy drag queen whose entire life has been a struggle to “be who she wants to be” in light of her father’s expectations that she become a professional boxer instead. The paths of these two different personalities cross when, after a chance encounter in London, Charlie enlists the aid of Lola to help save the factory and its workers by coming up with a new product for a niche market: strong and sturdy “kinky boots” that are not just beautiful but also sturdy enough to consistently support the weight of a full grown man.

From Atlantis’ FB Page

Thus, just like the musical has big boots to fill in light of its movie predecessor, so too do Charlie and Lola have mighty big boots to fill – the legacies of their fathers.

The two lead stars are absolutely perfect for their roles.

Nyoy Volante – whom I will admit I did not find good in their 2008 production of my favorite musical Hairspray – proved me wrong this time as he took on the complex and powerful role of Lola. Nyoy truly disappears into the character, and all I saw onstage was Lola. He has always been a great singer, but he has now shown that acting and dancing are in his genes as well. He managed to seamlessly convey the hilarity of Lola as well as her more serious nuances. Pretty sure he would do both Chiwetel as well as Billy Porter proud.

This is the first time I’ve seen Laurence Mossman in anything, and he made me an instant fan. He is absolutely believable as this man who, at the heart of it, still feels like the boy who is torn between his dreams and honoring his father’s legacy. His singing voice is also pretty good, and it makes me want to hear more (apparently he sings with a group called Primo, usually in Resorts World, so I may have to make a couple of trips there). He wonderfully plays the straight guy (in more ways than one) to Lola’s outrageous self.

From Atlantis’ FB Page

The rest of the cast are all spectacular, but special kudos to Yanah Laurel as Lauren and Jamie Wilson as Don. These two characters were absolutely pivotal in the movie, so it was crucial they got their musical versions right. I must also highlight the six Angels who, despite really being nothing much in characterization beyond being Lola’s backups, stole the show often.

The songs and script were all amazing, and Cyndi Lauper deserved her wins. One of my personal measures of success for a musical I watch the first time is if it has at least 2-3 songs that I can’t get our of my head. This one? Half, if not more. I am particularly in love with Raise You Up, Land of Lola, Step One, and Sex Is In The Heel.

The production, staging, and choreography are all top-notch, and it definitely shows just how much Bobby Garcia is still at the top of his directing game. How the stage was set-up to make you move from Northampton to London to Clacton to Milan was really great.

I did want to throttle whoever was in charge of curtains during the show I went to, as he/she lifted the curtains up too soon before the final twist of the show, revealing Charlie’s boxers and boots too soon. Now, I knew it was coming (as I saw the movie) and many others probably did, too, given the publicity material featuring Laurence Mossman in said outfit. Still, the moment deserved its due timing, so it distracted me.

From Atlantis’ FB Page

That part of the story also did seem rushed. In one moment, Charlie was on the way to the airport, then almost too soon, the fashion show was about to begin – with very little of the tension and panic that the movie had during those climactic moments. That said, unless Atlantis Entertainment shortened this, it’s more of a function of the book/script than the local production.

These are very minor quibbles, though, and overall it was a truly fantastic experience. Because of this show, Kinky Boots shot up to my Top 5 favorite foreign musicals.

Now, the question is: can this run be extended or at least be restaged again soon? It only ran for four weekends (June 30 to July 23), and it is such a hit. I unfortunately had some travel during this period and a lot of commitments, so I’m unable to watch it again a second time. I’d pay to watch it two more times, even.

Here’s hoping!

UPDATE: around the time I scheduled this article for posting last night, Atlantis posted a video announcement that they will have a re-run in March 2018. I only found out this morning. Yaaaasss. I mean, March 2018 feels so faaar away, but I am still so there.

From Atlantis’ FB Page

Yeah, I just had to.

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