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‘Kinky Boots’ Hollywood Bowl review: Wayne Brady to the rescue

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“Kinky Boots” was going about its enterprise Friday evening on the Hollywood Bowl when a meteor hit the stage and set the musical on hearth.

This planetary physique goes by the identify of Wayne Brady, who reprised his Broadway efficiency on the Bowl this weekend as Lola in Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s Tony Award-winning musical.

The present, which is ready in a shoe manufacturing facility in Northampton, England, isn’t ideally suited to out of doors presentation. David Rockwell’s meeting line set appears misplaced on the huge stage, and the provincial British milieu dissipates within the SoCal night air.

Jerry Mitchell, who directed the unique Broadway manufacturing and gained a Tony for his choreography, mounted the weekend present strategically for the large video screens. There was little level in trying straight forward on the stage even for these with premium seats. In truth, the manufacturing struck me as a tryout for a future NBC dwell musical broadcast.

Jake Shears, frontman of the Scissor Sisters, was acquitting himself amiably as Charlie, the shoe manufacturing facility proprietor’s son, who unexpectedly finds himself accountable for the enterprise after his father dies. However the musical nonetheless had a lackluster feeling within the early going.

Based mostly on the Miramax film, “Kinky Boots” has loads of backstory to plod via earlier than Lola turns up with the cost of a theatrical defibrillator. Lauper gained a Tony for her rating, however the numbers in the beginning of the present didn’t seize maintain of the viewers within the forceful manner that’s required in a picnicking surroundings.

Brady, glamorously kitted out like a cabaret Marvel Lady, rides to the rescue of the manufacturing very like Lola saves the day for Charlie, who has already determined to shut the failing shoe manufacturing facility when an opportunity encounter with this drag queen sparks an ingenious enterprise concept: Why not manufacture footwear for males who costume as girls?

Lola, introduced on board as a shoe designer, transforms not solely the corporate however the sexual politics of a whole group. Fierstein drives these classes residence in a ebook that continues his marketing campaign of broadening theatergoers’ views on gender expression and sexual id.

In his current memoir, “I Was Better Last Night,” Fierstein pays homage to Brady’s Broadway flip as Lola.

“Though I adored Billy Porter’s portrayal of Lola in ‘Kinky Boots,’ and we by no means may have developed the present with out his singular expertise and showmanship, it wasn’t till Wayne Brady took over the position that audiences lastly listened to the character say that he most well-liked girls and accepted him as a cross-dressing heterosexual.”

What arrested my consideration was Brady’s star high quality. He was as comfy in Lola’s wardrobe as he was within the character’s pores and skin. And his singing had the reassurance of one of many nice R&B powerhouses of yesteryear. He endowed Lola’s Act II solo quantity, “Maintain Me in Your Coronary heart,” with a contact of Dionne Warwick enchantment. (Musical director and conductor Stephen Oremus drew out simply sufficient ebullience from the orchestra.)

Probably the most stunning music in Lauper’s rating, “Not My Father’s Son,” is shared by Lola and Charlie, who uncover that they’ve extra in frequent than is seen on the floor. Bringing residence the emotional reality of this quantity, Brady and Shears prolonged the present’s imaginative and prescient to everybody searching for to be true to their very own individuality regardless of differing parental expectations.

A woman holds up a pair of shoes as a man gestures while talking to her

Jake Shears and Kelly Marie Tran in ‘Kinky Boots’ at Hollywood Bowl

(Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging)

Two different performers deserve singling out for his or her glorious work on this Bowl presentation. Kelly Marie Tran, who performed Lauren, the manufacturing facility employee who turns into the best romantic match for Charlie, delivers a delightfully neurotic model of “The Historical past of Unsuitable Guys.” And Daniel Stewart Sherman was completely forged within the foolproof position of Don, the large, small-minded lug on the manufacturing facility whose consciousness is raised by Lola’s willingness to empathize even with him.

Marissa Jaret Winokur, who gained a Tony for her lead efficiency in “Hairspray,” was within the forged however sadly didn’t have all that a lot to do. A gaggle of fetching drag queens supplied scrumptious backup for Lola. (Hats off to costume designer Gregg Barnes for enlivening the dreary manufacturing facility locale with sparkle and glitz.)

Brady is healthier often called a tv character however his efficiency in “Kinky Boots” revealed a treasure trove of musical comedy expertise. Fast, somebody write him a star position in an unique present. Any gender will do.