‘Kinky Boots’ kicks up its heels in Philly

‘Kinky Boots’ kicks up its heels in Philly

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The Tony Award-winning global smash hit musical “Kinky Boots” is strutting its high-heeled stuff through Oct. 8 at the Academy of Music.

Written by Harvey Fierstein and featuring music by Cyndi Lauper, “Kinky Boots” tells the story of a gentleman’s shoe factory at which Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations of continuing the family business. Price & Sons is struggling and in danger of closing when Price finds an unlikely answer to his problems in Lola, a charismatic drag queen who happens to need a sturdy pair of boots in which to perform.

Soon, the company starts making high-fashion boots, transforming its fortunes along with the attitudes of the people in that town.

Out New York-based actor and singer Lance Bordelon, who plays Charlie, said he sees a lot of his own life and experiences in “Kinky Boots,” which is inspired by a true story.

Bordelon first saw the show on Broadway about three years ago and said he immediately connected with the lead character he would go on to play.

“The idea of following in their father’s footsteps in so many ways and realizing along the journey that there’s a different path they want to take is definitely a theme I definitely identify with,” he said. “I’m originally from South Louisiana and I came out a few years ago and that journey has been tough. Although that’s not Charlie’s story, it’s definitely a theme I can relate to: feeling like you want to do your own thing and go your own way and also still having an appreciation from where you come from.”

Bordelon said the popularity of “Kinky Boots” in the United States goes to show that people of all walks of life can appreciate a story that celebrates acceptance and individuality. 

“I personally believe that the show has universal themes that are relevant to the gay community but also across the board in every gamut of society,” he said. “There are themes of tolerance and acceptance and diversity. I think our generation is at a place where it’s really thirsty for that. It’s also just a really fun show. People just want to go to the theater and smile and laugh and maybe have a happy tear now and then. That’s what ‘Kinky Boots’ really does. It quickly turns corners to keep you entertained and make you think.”

Besides the central characters of Charlie and Lola, Bordelon said some audience members may identify with the character of Don, the factory foreman who at first resents and ridicules Lola, but eventually comes around to respect their differences.

“I think the character of Don is really a mirror to a lot of people,” Bordelon said. “I know people like that in my life from home. He’s a factory worker who has to come to terms with how he sees other people. Ultimately, he learns if you change your mind, you change the world. I think there are a lot of people in my life who I’m excited for to come see the show because I want to see their reaction. The journey that we’ve had in our family and in my life is similar to what Don has in the show. He has a change of heart and sees Lola and Charlie in a different way.”

Broadway Philadelphia presents “Kinky Boots” through Oct. 8 at Kimmel’s Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, call 215-893-1999 or visit www.kimmelcenter.org.


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