Theater review: 'Kinky Boots' is back and as fabulous as ever

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Mar 09 2018 06:18 AM | Updated as of Nov 09 2018 04:08 PM

MANILA -- Atlantis Theatrical's production of "Kinky Boots" returns for a limited run for ladies, gentlemen and those who have yet to make up their minds.

The Tony-winning collaboration between '80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper and actor-playwright Harvey Feirstein based on a 2005 British movie of the same name, "Kinky Boots" opens with Charlie Price, the reluctant heir to Price & Sons, a British men’s shoes factory on the brink of bankruptcy. 

Laurence Mossman plays the reluctant heir of a struggling shoe factory in 'Kinky Boots.' Handout

Things look bleak until a chance meeting with Lola, a drag queen in distress to Charlie’s shoemaker in shining armor. Opportunity knocks for the odd couple as Charlie gets inspiration from Lola’s “two and a half feet of irresistible, tubular sex.” The musical then revolves around the rocky road to save the business by bringing Lola’s kinky boots to the world fashion stage.

On the "Kinky Boots" rerun playbill, Nyoy Volante’s description reads, “He now wishes to add being a Drag queen to his resume.” And he has done this admirably. Volante’s commitment to the role is just amazing. 

This production really hits its stride when Volante comes in with his Angels in the “Land of Lola” number. There are times where, even out of view of most of the audience, he still holds character as he sashays to exit backstage. In another part of the musical, he comes in wearing a suit and his discomfort of not being in drag showed as he fidgeted his way through that particular scene.

Laurence Mossman as Charlie Price was the straight man to Volante’s drag queen. For the better part of the first act, he seemed lost and expressionless. Then, I thought that was what the character was supposed to be during those parts. Only in “Not My Father’s Son” does he ramp up his intensity and emotion.

Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante joins the cast. Handout

The rest of the actors have their own moments to shine. Jamie Wilson’s Don is a hooligan whose tough act is used to great effect even before the play starts. Tricia Canilao plays Charlie’s high maintenance fiancé Nicola, and she just channels ego and worldly cluelessness that one just can’t help but root against her. Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante’s plays Lauren with a bubbly baby-faced innocence that it’s jarring when she does her Lola-esque moves in “What A Woman Wants.”

And lastly, there’s Lola’s Angels. In my opinion, the quintet of energizer batteries raised the energy level of the theater with their high kicks, splits, flamboyant outfits, and outrageous antics.

Bobby Garcia’s direction pulls off flamboyant frenetic vision. The industrial factory set is repurposed into all sorts of settings from drag queen theater to a fashion runway. The cast’s Cockney accent is on point and consistent. 

The musical’s trademark treadmill/conveyor belt “Everybody Say Yeah” sequence before the intermission has been scaled down from what I saw in the Tony performance, probably due the size of the theater, but is as energetic and as fun as ever. 

Nyoy Volante is a knockout. Handout photo

The way “In This Corner” was staged and lit reminded me of a boxing match from Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch.” Small touches, polish, and technical magic can be seen everywhere that is expected of a musical by Atlantis Productions.

"Kinky Boots" was on a lot of “must-watch” theater lists last year. I didn’t catch it then and I am really glad that to catch it on its second run. It’s fun, it’s joyous, and dare I say it, It’s kinky in all the right places. Behind the music, the color, and the flamboyant production, it is uplifting with its message of finding and accepting one’s own identity. 

In the end, we’re at our best when we’re comfortable in our skin. Or in the case of "Kinky Boots," in our own footwear.

“Kinky Boots” runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza, Makati until March 18.