Kinky Boots Is Touring. Should You See It Or The Movie?

 

When I had heard Kinky Boots was going to be a Broadway Musical, my first thought was it already was a musical, but just in movie form.  How hard could it be to change one of my favorite movies into a Broadway Musical?  And if they did it, would they ruin it?  Hearing Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper were taking the reins, I knew it would be a different show than The Movie.

Being that it was one of my all-time favorite movies, I contemplated going to NYC to see Kinky Boots on Broadway, but never ended up pulling the trigger.    I decided I would see Kinky Boots – The Musical when it came to southern Florida.  So many friends had made the journey to NYC, seen it, and loved it, but I when asked, they said they had never seen the movie.

The time had come for me to see what Harvey and Cyndi had done.  Last night at the Broward Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, three of us went to see the production.  The Musical was very entertaining and I loved how the entire movie plot was portrayed on stage with very little variance from the movie.  The changing of the arm wrestling challenge from the movie to a boxing match was small, but that boxing match scene was probably one of the more visually pleasing scenes of the entire production.  The lighting and choreography for it was spot on.  Cheers to whomever created that.  Another change / addition to the musical was presenting ‘out loud for all to hear’ Lauren’s take on her work / personal relationship with Charlie.  This comical edition and beefing up of her character were great alterations and additions to the story and allowed a great new song to be inserted, “The History of Wrong Guys.”

I was waiting for that time in a musical when one gets ultra-emotional about a character or story plot, but it never happened.  I was thinking it might be during “Not My Father’s Son,” but nope.  It was a moving and touching duet, but didn’t hit the mark that I was hoping, not like “For Good” from Wicked did.  Don’t get me started on that one.  Love you mom.

And I think that was the main thing that was lacking from Kinky Boots – The Musical when comparing it to Kinky Boots – The Movie.  I had asked my friend that accompanied me to the Broward Center for the Arts, how did the traveling production compare to when he saw it on Broadway.  He said both were great, but this seemed a little muted, not as energetic as the NYC version.  I was in agreement but in my case it was the comparison of The Musical to The Movie. 

One of the biggest differences between The Musical and The Movie was the music.  The songs used in the movie were spot on wonderful, full of energy, emotion, and presence.  Lauper’s songs were wonderful, but I think my emotions were locked into the copyrighted movie songs.  I was giving the songs a chance and it was succeeding.  Cyndi’s songs were not the typical Broadway ditties, but then again, after a season of Andrew Jackson, what is typical?

I don’t wish to rank The Musical lower than The Movie for I feel they are both wonderful portrayals of the same story.  The Indie film did not fully focus on acceptance and understanding, but instead how two people from different yet similar lives can work together and triumph.  Okay, yes, they are the same story, but I had a different emotional take-away from each.  The Fierstein / Lauper version seemed to preach acceptance and loving one another much more than The Movie.  The idea was there in The Movie, too, but had less breaks in the script for liberals to insert applause, which happened often at the arts center performance.

 

Let me tell you why the movie is one of my all-time favorites … Chiwetel Ejiofor.  His performance as Lola is so captivating, it draws you in, giving you an emotional gut check every so often while always being the showman – er – um – woman.  I’ve seen Ejiofor in performances before and after Kinky Boots, but for me, this is one of his more versatile and powerful roles.  Lola made the movie.  Lola supplied the energy.  Lola was who you were feeling.  Lola was LOLA.  She was a character that was bigger than the screen shot on occasion.  Both Charlie and Lola went through a personal journey on screen and on stage, but Ejiofor made you miss Lola when she was not on screen.  In the play, Charlie states that there is a gaping hole when Lola leaves the room.  I noticed that in The Movie and I was longing for that in the play.  This is no way a reflection on J. Harrison Ghee’s portrayal of Lola,, but more so maybe the directing.  Ghee’s biggest moment might have been during “Hold Me in Your Heart” where he was on stage alone.  I think Lola needed more of that alone time in order to be a more powerful persona.  I do wish I had the chance to see Billy Porter as Lola on Broadway.

For those of you that have seen both, you will notice that there was not much creativity in the spoken script.  It seemed all the lines were directly from the movie.  Here's one of my favorite Ejiofor scenes.  It was transposed into The Musical word for word.

 

If you have not seen either, see one of them at least.  If you have seen The Musical, I challenge you to see The Movie if you can find it.  I had to order my copy from overseas.  And after seeing The Musical, I think I will need to order The Movie Soundtrack for those are the songs that are running through my head, and not the Lauper’s from last night’s performance. 

 

Have you seen both?  Which was your favorite?

 

Since music is such a big part of a musical, here are the songs that are on the soundtracks to The Movie (1st) and The Musical (2nd).  As you can see, three is no overlap (click on to get larger view).

 

2 thoughts on “Kinky Boots Is Touring. Should You See It Or The Movie?”

  1. I have seen the movie several

    I have seen the movie several times and have seen it on Broadway and London's west end and to me it is hands down better on stage!  I am not saying movie is bad, just that the live energy cant be matched! 

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  2. I saw it on Broadway 2 years

    I saw it on Broadway 2 years ago and Billy Porter was amazing as Lola, however, even though I love Cyndi Lauper, I was not impressed with the show itself. It's the first movie to the stage that was exactly the same, and didn't really improve on the material.  Two musicals based on movies I've seen — The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — are actually better than their film versions and I always hope I'll see more like that.  Still, Kinky Boots is an enjoyable show and worth seeing.

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