It’s not the footwear stocked by local shoe retailers.  This pair of “Kinky Boots” is part of a drag queen’s costume now kicking on stage at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Based on the 2005 film which was inspired by true events, the stage adaptation earned a 2013 season high 13 nominations and 6 Broadway Tony Awards, including best musical and Best Score for pop singer Cyndi Lauper in her first outing as a Broadway songwriter.

With sexual gender and orientation major conversational topics these days, this hugely enjoyable all-Canadian Mirvish production liberates the inner conscience into accepting who we are (think “La Cage aux Folles,” and “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”).

Right from the opening number, “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World,”  audience response for the iconic fire engine red shoe, as well as for the show, is rapturous.  The knockout chorus of drag queens led by their flamboyant leader, Lola, reminds us the sex is in the stiletto heel.  Adulation for the footwear is well deserved.  From the dimming of the house lights to the final curtain call, we, the patrons eagerly cheer  the characters attempt to save a tired shoe factory from closing.  By the electrifying first-act closing song “Everybody Say Yeah,” the Royal Alex stage is ablaze with a fired up eye-popping, foot-stompin’ spectacle of  colour, and frenetic choreography.

I was thoroughly captivated by the performance realities etched by the lead characters high kicking the unusual story line to its all-stops-out happy ending.

Graham Scott Fleming plays Charlie Price, who reluctantly takes charge of the failing factory after his father dies. Charlie is conflicted over loyalty to his father’s expectations of helming the family firm. and his own desire to follow a real estate career.

Fleming infuses the character with a timid, unassertive vulnerability which eventually stiffens into a positive backbone when manipulated by Lola.  The actor skillfully blends both elements.

Alan Mingo Jr. is sensational as “Simon/Lola,” stealing scenes and pretty well the whole show as the wildly engaging female impersonator. “She” spits jocular-tinged sarcasm with rat-a-tat rhythm gleaned from writer Harvey Fierstein’s lively and witty script.   Mingo’s versatile talent is marvelously displayed. “He/she” helps turn the factory into a production line for kinky boots that can hold up to the pressures of male feet – a major plus for drag queens.

Though the show is rooted in an hilarious send up of “men in frocks,” very real emotional moments are dotted throughout the narrative.  One remarkable number, “I’m Not My Father’s Son,” a song about failing to meet parental expectations but discovering yourself is delivered by Charlie and Lola.  As an anthem for finding dignity, Lauper has composed a piece that at once deepens a musical while lifting it higher. Here, it’s a touching rendition.

“Kinky Boots” tells a fresh story, an uphill battle to save a shoe factory – its heartwarming message is a call to understand and have faith in yourself, and to accept the many differences around you. It also manages to squeeze in a lot of sizzling musical numbers amid the chaos of Charlie’s struggle to revive the family business, making for a show that bubbles over with energy.

“Kinky Boots” is a powerful kick of spectacle with hilarity and heart string emotions.  Instead of shoes, buy a ticket.

The show’s schedule has been extended through November 8th at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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