April 24, 2019

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Big boots to fill

Comfortable footwear is a low priority for touring musical's leading man

“Sex shouldn’t be comfy!”

So declares Lola, the drag queen played by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the 2005 movie comedy Kinky Boots. The outburst comes when Charlie, the owner of a down-at-heels English shoe factory pitches Lola on the manufacture of “comfy” boots for men who dress as women in a bid to save the business.

In 2012, the movie begat a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Cyndi Lauper. As Broadway hits will do, the show has hit the road with a touring production from Troika Entertainment, landing at the Centennial Concert Hall tonight.

American actor Kenneth Mosley takes the pivotal role of Lola in this production, which requires he go Ejiofor one better, singing and dancing in boots with perilously high heels, begging the question: Are those boots comfortable?

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"Sex shouldn’t be comfy!"

Theatre preview

Click to Expand

Kinky Boots

Book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Cyndi Lauper

Centennial Concert Hall

Opens Tuesday, to Sunday

Tickets $35-$120 at centennialconcerthall.com or 204-949-3999

So declares Lola, the drag queen played by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the 2005 movie comedy Kinky Boots. The outburst comes when Charlie, the owner of a down-at-heels English shoe factory pitches Lola on the manufacture of "comfy" boots for men who dress as women in a bid to save the business.

In 2012, the movie begat a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Cyndi Lauper. As Broadway hits will do, the show has hit the road with a touring production from Troika Entertainment, landing at the Centennial Concert Hall tonight.

American actor Kenneth Mosley takes the pivotal role of Lola in this production, which requires he go Ejiofor one better, singing and dancing in boots with perilously high heels, begging the question: Are those boots comfortable?

Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)</p>

Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

"As a performer, we’re never asked to make the comfortable choice," Mosley says. "Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in an industry where we don’t know where our next cheque is coming from. 

"I’ve been on the road now for about three years," he adds. (Prior to taking the role of Lola in December, he played music mogul Berry Gordy in the touring musical Motown.)

"My father said to me the other day, ‘You know, you’re technically homeless,’" he says, laughing. "I said, ‘Well, that’s a technicality dad.’

"But we’re not in this industry for comfort," he says. "The funny thing is: These shoes are custom-made by a wonderful designer in New York who serves the Broadway community and has done so for decades.

"They custom-fit the shoes to your feet," he says. "The boots in particular are very comfortable."


It may be that 2019 may be an appropriate time to see a show that implicitly fosters understanding of LGBTTQ* communities given the backward steps being taken in governments around the world on issues of sexuality and gender.

Connor Allston and Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)</p>

Connor Allston and Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

But Mosley says the show doesn’t trumpet that particular agenda.

"It is more about promoting understanding with each other, anyone who is not in your crowd — that little microcosm, that bubble that you live in," he says. "This show is challenging you to welcome the opportunity to learn and to grow from someone who may be much different than you."

"The whole point of the show is that it’s not necessarily about drag queens," he says. "Drag queens are just the metaphor used to teach the lesson.

"And the lesson is that we have to all accept each other, we have to all listen to each other, and become one harmonious organism that makes a community of human beings on the earth."

Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)</p>

Kenneth Mosley in the National Tour of Kinky Boots. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

While Mosley commits to bringing the "joy" of his drag queen character, he still has to empasize the human underneath the wig and boots.

"You have to be committed 110 per cent to telling the story in a way that doesn’t highlight the fact she’s a drag queen," he says.

"It’s about telling the story and heightening people’s awareness and really stepping outside of themselves and taking an assessment of how they want to live," he says.

"Do they want to be someone who avoids change and transition? Or do they want to be someone who embraces people being different or having different ideologies... and decide to love them anyway?"

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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