• Kyle Taylor Parker, left, as Lola and Steven Booth as Charlie Price in "Kinky Boots" at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Kinky Boots

National Tour

Book by: Harvey Fierstein
Music and Lyrics by: Cyndi Lauper
Direction and Choreography by: Jerry Mitchell
With: J. Harrison Ghee, Adam Kaplan, Tiffany Engen
Hollywood Pantages Theatre April 13 – 24, 2016
http://www.hollywoodpantages.com/

These boots were definitely not made for walkin’. No siree. If you have been under a rock or otherwise missed the hoopla around the 2013, 6-Tony-Awards-winner “Kinky Boots,” the musical – not to be confused with “Kinky Boots,” the movie — it is the story of Charlie Price (Adam Kaplan). the scion of a venerable British shoe-making company, He has never been particularly interested in shoes and is about to head off to London for a career in real estate instead, which does not particularly interest him either. No sooner does he land in the big city with his vapid fiancé, that he gets a telegram informing him his father has died. Some sense of filial duty sends him back home only to find the factory about to go out of business as no-one is interested in buying its stodgy product. Oy … and all those jobs about to be lost.

Enter Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a pedal-to-the-metal drag queen, and his boys/girls. OMG, those spike heels are just not up to the impact of the male dancers. Just what is needed … an open niche in the shoe market. But first a little sturm und drang. What would a father say? How get a father’s respect and still be one’s own person. Flash back to his father’s disapproval of Charlie’s disinterest in the factory and Lola’s father’s disapproval of his transvestite proclivities. We get just enough content to feel some investment in Charlie’s finding himself, Lola’s need to proclaim her identity, and factory worker Lauren’s (a sparkling Tiffany Engen) lifelong crush on Charlie. This being a Broadway musical there is plenty to sing and dance about. The subject being drag queens there is plenty to catch your eye. The boots they manufacture dazzle the eye and look like an orthopedist’s annuity.

“Kinky Boots” is only parking itself in Hollywood for two weeks this go-around. Opening night, the production began somewhat feebly, perhaps a result of not having had a chance to adjust to the Pantages’ cavernous space. The orchestra overwhelmed the singers for the first 15 minutes, making it hard to care about the story. Until the orchestra calmed down and he had Lola to play off of, Adam Kaplan was unable to make Charlie believable. The kudos of this production definitely go to J. Harrison Ghee. The stage lights up up when he is on, so much so that when he exhorts “Ladies, Gentlemen, and those of you who haven’t made up your mind” … “Raise You Up/Just Be,” you are ready to believe that “if you accept yourself” the world will beat a path to your door. Maybe. It is certain they will beat a path to the theater door because “Kinky Boots” is fun to watch whether or not you can swallow the message hook, line and sinker.

Los Angeles ,

Weinstein is a clinical psychologist who teaches in the medical school at UCLA. She also holds a master’s degree in Urban Studies and has a strong interest in history and architecture, as well as the theater.