Kinky Boots Musical Will Kick It Up in Chicago in October, Prior to Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
February 22, 2012

The musical Kinky Boots, about a shoe company that finds new life when its owner is inspired to switch to manufacturing fetish footwear, will get a pre-Broadway tryout this fall at Chicago's Bank of America Theatre, producers Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig announced Feb. 22.

The world-premiere run will begin in Chicago in October, followed by a 2013 Broadway life. Casting and specific dates have not been announced.

Special tax incentives in Illinois were designed to lure producers to work in the city on developing plays and muscials.

Kinky Boots — with a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles) and music and lyrics by pop singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper, who makes her legit writing debut with the show — was seen in New York City workshop presentations Jan. 19-20 in anticipation of a Broadway bow sometime in 2012-13. Broadway's Stark Sands and Billy Porter tested the material for an eager industry audience.

Here's how producers characterize the show, based on the fact-inspired 2005 film comedy: "In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price is forced to step in and save his family's shoe factory in Northern England, following the sudden death of his father. Help comes from the unlikeliest angel, a fabulous drag performer named Lola. Together, this improbable duo not only revitalizes the nearly bankrupt business, but helps one another grow into the men their fathers always dreamed their sons would become and transforms an entire community through the power of acceptance."

The musical will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (2004's La Cage aux Folles, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can). Musical supervision and arrangements are by 2011 Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Wicked, 9 to 5, The Book of Mormon). Casting is by Telsey + Company.

The January workshop presentation, attended by potential investors, featured Stark Sands (American Idiot, Journey's End) as Charlie and Billy Porter (Off-Broadway's Angels in America, Broadway's Smokey Joe's Café, Miss Saigon) as vivacious drag performer Lola.

The workshop cast also included Adinah Alexander, Annaleigh Ashford, Aaron Bantum, Eugene Barry-Hill, Stephen Berger, Caroline Bowman, Josh Caggiano, Paul Canaan, Celina Carvajal, Andy Kelso, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Eric Leviton, Ellyn Marie Marsh, John Jeffrey Martin, Mike McGowan, Marcus Neville, Nathan Peck, Jen Perry, Kyle Post, Tory Ross, Daniel Sherman, Charlie Sutton and Joe Taranto.

Singer-songwriter Lauper is known for her offbeat '80s style and such tunes as "True Colors," "Time After Time" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Her show will have a pop-rock sound. The 2005 source film comedy is about a drag-queen cabaret performer who helps revitalize a British shoe company by creating a line of fetish wear.

Broadway producer Roth's credits include Wit, Proof, August: Osage County and many other Brodway and Off-Broadway shows; she won a 2011 Tony for producing The Normal Heart. Luftig produced Movin' Out and Legally Blonde, among others.

Geoff Deane & Tim Firth penned the screenplay of "Kinky Boots." The film was directed by Julian Jarrold. Chiwetel Ejiofor (who played vivacious drag queen Lola) was nominated for a 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. The U.K. release was in 2005; the U.S. release was in 2006. In the movie, a son inherits his dead father's dying shoe company, which produces functional footwear for which there is no market. An encounter with a drag performer changes the lives of those in the shoe business.