Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Kinky Boots
Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Dean Yannias

Marcus Robinson
Photo by Jennifer Yvonne Photography
I'm sure it's no coincidence that Musical Theatre Southwest is presenting Kinky Boots during Pride Month. The musical's message is one of accepting people for who they are, which is what Pride is all about.

Kinky Boots started out as a 2005 British movie based on a real-life situation in which a failing shoe company was saved from bankruptcy by changing its production line from stodgy men's shoes to fabulous boots for fabulous drag queens. The movie's potential to become a Broadway musical was noticed by a couple of producers, and they recruited Harvey Fierstein to write the book and Cyndi Lauper to write the music and lyrics. The musical went on to win six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Did it really deserve the Best Score Tony? As with many contemporary musicals, the songs are not especially memorable, but there wasn't a great deal of competition that year and Cyndi Lauper is just so lovable.

The story begins with one Charlie Price from the industrial north of England. His family has owned a shoe factory for generations, but nobody is buying the old-fashioned kinds of shoes that they produce. Charlie doesn't plan on spending his life in the shoe business. He is moving to London, like so many young people from the hinterlands. When he suddenly inherits the company (and all of the accumulated debt), he at first plans to shut it down and lay off all the workers. If that happened, there wouldn't be much of a show. Instead, one of the employees suggests that one way to save the company is to make shoes for a niche market.

A chance encounter between Charlie and drag queen Lola provides the niche market: glamorous boots that will support the weight of men in drag without the stiletto heel breaking. Charlie invites Lola to design the boots. Lola (given name Simon) comes north to the factory and encounters the expected hostility from some of the workers, but she makes it work. Is the ending uplifting? Of course it is. It's a feel-good musical, and you leave the theater on a high.

Jason Roman was fantastic in a prior Musical Theatre Southwest season as the Emcee in Cabaret. Here he is equally good as a completely different character, the straight and narrow Charlie. What a range he has, and why doesn't he appear on stage more often? He has the biggest part in the show, but the scene-stealing role is that of Lola, embodied here by Marcus Robinson. Tall and looking spectacular in drag, you can't take your eyes off her. Marcus also handles the non-drag scenes well. There is a touching moment when Charlie and Simon discuss their relationships with their fathers, and a poignant reconciliation scene between Simon and his father near the end. There's a lot of humanity in this script, not just all glitzy fun.

There are nineteen other actors on stage and they all do fine work, deserving of applause. David Bryant does a great job directing the large cast, in collaboration with Wren Meid as music director and Rachael Noe as choreographer. The set by Jordon Embree cleverly accommodates scenes in the shoe factory, a drag club, a London apartment, a Milan fashion show catwalk, and more. (There is one wall, though, that is moved around by the crew more than it needs to be.) Lighting by Brittney Baker, props by Nina Dorrance, sound by Vincent Montoya, costumes by Carly Trujillo and Avery Corpion Edwards, and hair and makeup by Rachel Capener are all very well done.

Kinky Boots is a show for everybody, not just the LGBTQ community. I hope the entirety of Albuquerque gives it the support that it deserves.

Kinky Boots runs through June 22, 2024, at Musical Theatre Southwest, 6320 Domingo Rd NE b, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30; Sundays at 2:00, with a Saturday matinee at 2:00 on 6/22. For tickets and information, please visit