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Review: Broadway musical 'Kinky Boots' is still a kick

“Kinky Boots” still has plenty of shimmer, even if there seems to be less shine.

And we’re not talking about the sparkly drag queen costumes for the touring production now at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts as much as we are the show’s inner glow. During previous stops in South Florida (Fort Lauderdale in 2016, Miami in 2015), that luminescence came in part from the pop-rock score by Cyndi Lauper and the brisk book by Harvey Fierstein, but also from the cast, who ran the material as far as one could possibly imagine and then a bit farther on sheer kinetic force.

The production in West Palm Beach is far more settled, less pin-you-to-the-back-of-your-seat dazzling. But don’t get it twisted: “Kinky Boots” still has plenty of kick. It’s just that now you don’t really begin to feel the boot until about a third of the way into the first act (in a two-hour show with a 15-minute intermission).

Based on a 2005 British film by the same name, the musical debuted on Broadway in 2013 and won six Tony Awards, going toe to toe with "Matilda the Musical," which opens next week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

The story follows Charlie Price (Curt Hansen), a fourth-generation owner of a failing men's shoe factory in Northampton, England. Facing mounting debt and stock no retailer seems to want, Charlie becomes convinced that his family's company can be saved with the help of faux female Lola (Timothy Ware), who needs sturdy stiletto boots for himself and his fellow female impersonators at a nightclub.

If Charlie can get his rough-hewn factory workers to work in tandem with the cross-dressers — people he hilariously calls “transveterans” and “transgentry” — then his niche line of fabulous footwear might steal the spotlight at an all-important shoe fair in Milan, which would save his longtime employees' jobs.

Both leads hold the spotlight well, especially when onstage together, ping-ponging off each other. Hansen has a coiled, intense wail he unleashes in his solos, and Ware has a comedic timing that is as pointed as a stiletto heel.

It all manages to kick into high gear just in time for the out-of-nowhere and ridiculously joyful fashion-show finale, which ticks off the show’s themes like a PowerPoint presentation. It’s perhaps a little unearned, but with that much feel-good flash and flair on the runway, you just kind of go with it.

“Kinky Boots” runs through April 23 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., in West Palm Beach. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $27-$112. To order, call 561-832-7469 or go to Kravis.org.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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