Winner of the 2013 Tony award for best musical, Kinky Boots resonates with audiences worldwide.
Based on a true story — the UK’s Steve Pateman was struggling to save his family-run shoe factory from closure and decided to produce fetish footwear for men, under the brand name “Divine Footwear” — the musical features work by the powerhouse combo of Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper. (If you don’t tap your feet to this one, you might be dead.)
Eugene Weekly recently caught up with one of the touring production’s stars, South African-born Adam du Plessis, who plays Don, the foreman of the shoe factory and a bit of a nemesis to the show’s lead drag queen, Lola.
“The story shows the tragedy and inevitability of commercialism and industrialism on local and family-owned businesses,” du Plessis says. “Its uniqueness comes from ingenuity and boldness of the main character, Charlie Price (Steve Pateman), coming up with an idea so ‘out of the box’ that it challenges both himself and everyone around him to have a hard look in the mirror and decide who they are and who they are going to be.”
Kinky Boots features book by Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy) and lyrics by the inimitable Lauper.
“Lauper brings her music through a range of color and emotion, from upbeat and positive to thoughtful and sincere, to soaring and uplifting, to comic genius,” du Plessis says. “Harvey Fierstein creates a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously at times, but still has the ability to gently but firmly get its point across.”
I ask du Plessis what is the core message of Kinky Boots: What do we go home thinking about?
“Acceptance,” he says. “Accepting not only others but accepting yourself too. There are themes of bigotry and bullying and self-doubt and insecurity, but it all comes down to acceptance.”
“And yes, I think the world could do with some acceptance right now, but the same can be said for the entire history of the human race,” he continues. “But it is stories like this that can make a difference — perhaps just a small one. But if we can change just one mind with each performance, then we’ve done our job.”
Kinky Boots plays 7:30 pm Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 27 through March 1, at the Hult; $43-$111, with college, youth and active military discounts available, at hultcenter.org.