Kinky Boots

JUNE 2, 8, 9, 16 2024


Don enters talking on his cell phone. He notices the audience; he tells his friend on the phone that he has to go to work, so he has to turn off his phone, no texting, no vibrating, nothing. He looks pointedly at the audience, then enters the factory.

Act One

In the Price & Son Shoes factory, workers praise the product that they are making (“Price Son Theme”). Mr. Price enters with his seven-year-old son, Charlie. He explains to Charlie that the most beautiful thing in the world is a shoe; Charlie is not convinced. Meanwhile, a young Lola, also a seven-year-old boy, tries on a pair of red, high-heeled shoes. He dances in a reverie towards the heels, but then his father, Simon, Sr., appears and yells at him to take the shoes off. Time shifts forward as the adult Charlie finds his fiancée, Nicola, admiring a very expensive pair of shoes. She tells him that, before they get married, he needs to buy her these shoes for their new life in London. As Charlie leaves for London, his dad disapproves, saying that he belongs at the factory. Everyone around him sings about their love of shoes, but Charlie does not get it; they’re just shoes (“The Most Beautiful Thing in the World”).

In London, Nicola is excited to start their new careers, but Charlie is just happy not to be making shoes. Suddenly, Charlie gets a phone call that his father has died. The factory workers mourn Mr. Price’s passing (“Price & Son Theme – Funereal”). George, the factory manager, assumes that Charlie will take over for his father, but Charlie has no such intention. He gives a half-hearted speech to the factory employees. Pat, the office manager, tells Charlie to come quickly – the entire spring shoe order has been returned. The factory is clearly in trouble, and Charlie is expected to step up, but he doesn’t want to do so and he wouldn’t know where to start. George mentions that Charlie’s father had a plan, but rushes off without further details.

In a local pub, Charlie watches his old friend, Harry, play in a band. After the set, Charlie and Harry drink. Harry explains that he is able to survive his life as a discount shoe salesman by having other things in his life. Charlie begs Harry to buy his overstock. Eventually, Harry agrees but not before telling Charlie that this is a temporary solution; he has to figure out what he’s going to do with the failing factory now that his father is gone (“Take What You Got”).

After leaving the pub, Charlie sees a woman being attacked by hooligans. He rushes to her aid, but she doesn’t need much defense – she accidentally knocks Charlie out in the process of fending off her assailants. Charlie wakes up backstage at the Blue Angel Club, where the woman, Lola, is actually a cross-dressing man and the star act. She invites Charlie and everyone else to leave expectations behind (“Land of Lola”).

In Lola’s dressing room, Charlie offers to fix the heel to Lola’s boot that got broken in the fight. He notes that the boots are cheaply made. Cheaply made, but very expensive, Lola points out. It is hard to find high heels that can stand up to her rough use. Lola goes out for her second show, which splits the stage with Charlie back at the Price & Son office the following day. He is giving two-weeks notice to his employees, who are not happy about it. Lauren suggests that, if nobody wants what Charlie is making, he should make something that they want. Meanwhile, Nicola pressures Charlie to leave the factory and come back to London so that they can plan their wedding. As they argue about the specialty shoes that she wants, a light bulb goes off for him (“Land of Lola – Reprise”).

Lauren and Charlie go to visit Lola at the club. Charlie convinces Lola to let him design boots for cross-dressing men, that she will wear. Lola says that she will pick the boots up at the factory, despite Charlie’s protests that he’ll bring them to her in London. Since he doesn’t want her coming to Northampton, that’s exactly what she intends to do. Lola exits, telling Charlie to make the boots red.

Alone in his office, Charlie wonders what he’s gotten himself into and if he can really save the factory this way (“Step One”). Triumphant, Charlie creates a burgundy boot with a chunky block heel. When Lola sees the boot, she is not impressed. Charlie doesn’t understand what’s wrong with the boot. Lola tries to explain that burgundy is boring, and red is sexy. She asks the women in the factory if they would wear this shoe, and they respond that they would not. Lola explains that anything that they won’t wear, she won’t wear. Don comes onto Lola but, when he realizes that she is a man, he gets very angry. Lola, joined by her angels – the backup dancers from the club – tries to explain to Charlie where he has gone wrong (“The Sex Is in the Heel”). Lola designs a variety of boots that are sleek and sexy. Charlie protests, saying that they cannot make a stiletto heel for men, but George disagrees.

When Charlie realizes that they can make the shoe, he asks Lola to come design for him. Lola is unsure; small-minded men like Don are why she moved to London to begin with, and she doesn’t want to come back. Charlie manages to convince her, explaining his plan to debut their boots at the fashion show in Milan.

After Charlie explains the plan to the factory workers, he thanks Lauren for helping him and promotes her off the production line, so that she can help with the Milan show. Lauren realizes that she is getting a crush on Charlie, much to her chagrin (“History of Wrong Guys”).

Don and some of the other workers complain to George about being harassed for making these new kinds of kinky boots. George tells him that they should be grateful to be making shoes and keeping the factory open. Lola appears for her first day of work wearing men’s clothing; after being made fun of by Don, she retreats to the bathroom. Charlie comes to find her. They realize that they have a lot of in common, each one trying unsuccessfully to live up to his father’s expectations. Lola’s father had wanted her to be a champion boxer, as he had been, but that wasn’t her path (“I’m Not My Father’s Son”).

Charlie finds Nicola with her new boss outside of the factory. He is excited to tell her about his plan to save the factory but, instead, learns that his father was planning to sell the Price & Son building and have it turned into condos. The implication is that Mr. Price didn’t have enough faith in Charlie to take over the factory. Just then, Lola has completed her first pair of thigh-high, shiny, red boots, and they are exactly what Charlie was hoping for. Together, they get the whole factory excited for their kinky revolution (“Everybody Say Yeah”).

Act Two

As the houselights fade, the Price & Son factory gets made over to reflect its new product (“Price & Son Redux”).

Inside the factory, Charlie criticizes Lola for not wearing proper working attire. It is clear that he is panicking about the Milan show. Don confronts Lola about her outfit, as well, and Lola tells him that he is jealous because Lola gets all of the attention from the women in the factory for what she wears. Don and Lola argue about what it means to be a real man (“What a Woman Wants”). Lola challenges Don to write down what he thinks would make her a real man, and she will agree to do that as long as he does the same.

Lauren alerts Charlie that Don has challenged Lola to a boxing match. Charlie is concerned; when Lauren says that Lola can stand up for herself, Charlie explains that he’s worried about Don. Lauren and Charlie arrive at the pub just in time to see the boxing match (“In This Corner”). At the end of the fight, Lola lets Don win. When he asks her why, she explains that she didn’t want him to walk back into the factory and feel disrespected. She then gives Don her challenge: to accept someone for who they are, anyone at all.

In the factory office, Charlie realizes that they don’t have enough money to go to Milan. Lola suggests that they cut costs by using her angels instead of professional models, but Charlie scoffs at this idea. He wants to be taken seriously at the fashion show. He also criticizes Trish and the other workers for not building the shoes right. Nicola arrives, furious with Charlie for mortgaging their flat without asking her, so that he can pay for the Milan trip. Ultimately, it is clear that she and Charlie are on different paths, and she leaves. Then, Charlie tells Lola that they need to show the shoes on women. This was not the plan. Lola is furious, and Charlie further insults her. After berating the factory workers, as well, everyone leaves Charlie alone with his half-done shoes. Alone in the factory, Charlie is completely defeated (“Soul of a Man”).

Lauren finds Charlie and reminds him why he is doing all of this – because it is his father’s legacy. He turns to find the factory all lit up; confused, he goes inside to find his employees back at work, making the boots. It turns out that Don took Lola’s challenge and accepted Charlie for who he really is and got everyone to come back. Don also gives Charlie back last week’s paychecks, so that they will have enough money to go to Milan. Charlie sees the finished boots, and they are finally right (“The Sex Is in the Heel – Reprise”).

As the team gets ready to go to London, Lola is nowhere to be found. Charlie calls her repeatedly to apologize, but with no success. Meanwhile, we find Lola performing in the Clacton Nursing Home (“Hold Me in Your Heart”). When the show ends, it turns out that her father – in a wheelchair and wearing an oxygen mask – was in the audience.

Backstage in Milan, Charlie is all alone and prepared to go on to model the boots himself. Lauren and George sit in the audience, ready to cheer him on; Lauren is even more impressed by him (“History of Wrong Guys – Reprise”). Charlie tentatively takes the runway, but before he can embarrass himself too much, Lola and her angels appear and take the stage. They dazzle the runway (“Raise You Up”). With everyone celebrating the triumph of the kinky boots, Charlie asks Lauren out. The stage is flooded with all of the factory workers wearing the boots, including Don! As the lights change, Young Charlie and Young Lola enter alongside Mr. Price and Simon, Sr. The two boys hug their fathers. Then, adult Charlie and Lola hug. They step forward and tell the audience their secret to success (“Just Be”).