Sunday night’s TONY Awards is destined to be a British showdown for Best New Musical. Matilda, originally from Britain and the musical with the most Olivier-awards ever won, stands to likewise sweep up its fair share of TONYs if it can tear them out of Kinky Boots’ colorful, bedazzled grasp.
And that, gentle reader… or weirdo stranger (whichever you prefer to be called) is going to be a difficult task.
Why? Because Kinky Boots is the entire package. It’s a feel-good story that blends just the right amount of entertainment and social critique. It’s a vehicle for what many feel is an urgent civil rights issue, but it also stands clear of getting too preachy or divested from the characters’ motivations. It’s got clever, fun, cross-genre songs by Cyndi Lauper (you know them TONY voters love that cross-genre stuff by famous people) and a heartfelt, well-paced, and witty book by Harvey Fierstein (you know them TONY voters love the Fierman).
Visually, Kinky Boots is also a treat. The sets are realistic, yet practical– a mountain of shoe boxes can flip around into a bathroom stall, factory conveyor belts make handy tools for an OK Go-style dance number. The costumes are… well, let’s just say if you have an entire song devoted to how amazing shoes are and another song about how burgundy is the least sexiest color, you know there’s got to be some serious stress in the costume department or else someone’s going to lose a job.
Also likely to sweep up an award Sunday night is Annaleigh Ashford, whose supporting role nearly steals the show… and that’s hard to do when you’ve got half a dozen drag queens parading around you. Billy Porter and Stark Stands are going head to head for that Best Actor award. And in full confidentiality, I’m on Team Stark. I mean, haven’t enough Starks suffered on television this week? I pretty much knew I was Team Stark when I exited the theater with my fists in the air, in full Steve Holt style, saying “Stark Sands.” ButyeaBillyPorterisgreattoosogoodluckeverybody!
Go get it, Kinky Boots! Sunday night is YOURS!