Theatre Review: ‘Kinky Boots’ Is A Riotous Good Time

Kick up your heels for some fun at this feel-good musical

Photos: Matthew Murphy / Base Entertainment Asia

We were pleasantly surprised when we learned earlier this year that Broadway’s Kinky Boots would be playing at Singapore as a stop on their international tour. It’s no usual affair for our Marina Bay Sands Theatres to host a musical about a drag queen who works with a struggling shoemaker to practically sell sex in the form of bright red, knee-high stiletto boots, marketed specially for cross-dressing men.

Kinky Boots gives us more ways to celebrate pride on our shores, as well as the loving strength of the human spirit. The tale of accepting ourselves and one another for who we are is a timeless one, sure to resonate with everyone. Director Jerry Mitchell, whose earlier work includes the fun Legally Blonde musical, jazzes up this message – the multi-award-winning musical struts out an entourage of sassy drag queens who smash gender stereotypes and aren’t afraid to own their fabulousness.

Every moment that Lola and her Angels grace the stage in their dazzling smiles and gorgeous costumes to boot (get it?), they enter to a loud audience hooting in delight and encouragement. Here’s a fun fact: the boots used in the show were all custom-made to fit each actor!

As leading drag queen Lola, Jos N. Banks steals every scene he’s in and captivates us with those incredible vocal pipes that are at once commanding and soothing. If only we could have a pocket-sized version of Banks to sing us to sleep every night.

Banks switches effortlessly between the take-charge alter-ego Lola, and the more vulnerable Simon (his birth name), immersing himself wholly in each character from their clothing to their musical style. The introduction of Simon comes in one of the musical’s most pivotal ballads, “Not My Father’s Son,” where Banks warms and breaks our hearts at the same time.

It’s also in that duet that Lance Bordelon gives perhaps his most sincere performance as Charlie, the struggling shoe factory owner. The bittersweet scene sees Bordelon tone down his slightly awkward country-style vocals, and reveal the earnest insecurity of Charlie as he gets inspired by Lola/Simon.

Fans of the 2005 Kinky Boots movie (starring Chiwetel Ejiofor) might like to know that the musical is very faithful to its source material, incorporating some of the movie’s iconic lines into the dialogue and songs. Those who prefer something new won’t be disappointed, as seeing the glamorous costumes up-close and hearing the electrifying music by the one and only Cyndi Lauper live is an experience like no other.

The gritty themes of class conflicts that concern the original movie are more subtle in the uplifting musical, where catchy tunes and crowd-pleasing humour take centre stage.

We eagerly anticipated our favourite number, “The History of Wrong Guys,” where Lauren, the awkward-shy and sweet factory employee discovers her crush on Charlie in hilarious yet totally relatable fashion. Sydney Patrick did not disappoint, revealing an impressive vocal range and comedic timing that drew lots of laughs from the audience.

Another memorable number we love is “Everybody Say Yeah,” where the ensemble slides and dances on moving factory-style conveyor belts! We couldn’t take our eyes off the complex and thrilling choreography – some of the Angels even did it in heels!

Some of the musical numbers felt like mini-concerts, and could have been better paced, but they all shone with heart. Amid all the visual spectacle, Kinky Boots delivers an inspiring and feel-good reminder that we’re all stumbling on the same rocky road towards loving ourselves and just being ourselves, regardless of how we dress. But sometimes, wearing something sexy can go far to bring out our inner strength and community.

Kinky Boots is now playing at Marina Bay Sands Theatres until 14 October. You can get your tickets at SISTIC.

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