Kinky Boots puts on snazzy pizazz

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None of these boots are electric, but the performances are electrifying in Kinky Boots.

Kinky Boots stands tall and proud in its three-foot high-heeled boots as the feel-good musical hits plenty of familiar tropes on its way to glory.

The Broadway hit arrives in town for a week-long run at the Orpheum with its charms (and flaws) intact. It rides high on a clever book by Harvey Fierstein, rocking tunes by Cyndi Lauper, and a terrific turn by Kyle Taylor Parker as drag queen and shoe designer Lola.

The plot does seem to be a bit of quirky British movie mad libs. At his family's dying shoe factory in Northampton, England, newly in-charge Charlie realizes he has to find a niche to save the business. That salvation comes in an unexpected form: Lola, a London drag queen.

A chance encounter (Charlie tries to play the hero when Lola gets hassled by some drunks; she accidentally clocks him in the head with a boot) leads to a eureka moment. The boots Lola wears for the show are designed for a woman, not a man. Lola and the rest need better footwear. Charlie has a shoe factory. Cue the montages.

Of course, things don't go smoothly once the plan is unveiled back in Northampton. Some of the stick-in-the-mud employees don't like having someone as fabulous as Lola in their midst. Charlie feels pressure to just sell off the old factory, put everyone out of work, and convert the building to condominiums.

Will it turn out fine in the end? It's a feel-good musical. Of course it will. The fun comes in the journey, where Lauper's tunes and the highly energized and committed cast come into the picture. Lauper's score has plenty of pop, funk, and rock in it, but there's also enough good old-fashioned Broadway tunesmithing to move the story along.

While Fierstein's book is often clever and offers a bright and thoughtful look at drag queens and transgender folks, some of the storytelling is clumsy, partly because the story was condensed from a feature film into a musical where a lot of running time is given over to songs. Some plot threads, like the aforementioned idea to sell the factory, are brought up and then dropped without a trace. Much of the complication in the second act, as Charlie and Lola have a falling out, seems to be contrived to keep the show up to a full-length piece than something that offers much insight into any of the characters.

That part, however, does give Lola another torch song in the guise of the barn-burning "Keep Me in Your Heart." Lola is the star here, and Parker just radiates whenever he's onstage. The magnetic performance comes with some depth as well, as Parker is able to bring the various sides of the character to the fore.

Charlie is going to come off somewhat bland in the face of that, but Steven Booth knows when to stay in the background and let Parker strut his stuff, and when to take over. The pair get able support up and down the cast, from Joe Coots' turn as the bigoted factory man Don to Lindsay Nicole Chambers' Lauren, who gets a big '80s-style video moment in her solo tune, "The History of Wrong Guys."

A nearly flawless first act and muddy, but overall entertaining, second make Kinky Boots a terrific addition to the touring musical pantheon.

IF YOU GO:

Kinky Boots

Through Sunday

Orpheum Theatre

910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

$49-$144

For tickets and more information, call 1-800-982-2787 or visit online.


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