Fierstein, Lauper forge "kinky" show that's safe for Broadway

Fri Apr 5, 2013 3:54pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Take an obscure British film about a failing shoe factory, hand it over to openly gay actor and writer Harvey Fierstein, add music by pop star Cyndi Lauper and what have you got?

It is the new Broadway musical "Kinky Boots," which aims to make drag safe and commercially viable for the masses, while offering life lessons on love and self-acceptance along the way.

With a mantle full of Tony awards for hit shows such as "La Cage aux Folles," "Torch Song Trilogy" and "Hairspray," Fierstein embraced the opportunity to take the story to the stage.

In "Kinky Boots," opening on Friday, the reluctant owner of a failing shoe factory teams up with a force-of-nature drag queen to save the business. The owner comes up with an unlikely plan to produce outrageous thigh-high spike-heeled boots that can withstand a man's heft, meeting resistance from the English working-class laborers.

"It's very human," Fierstein told Reuters about his adaptation of the 2005 British film of the same name.

"It's not about saving a factory, it's not about making shoes. It's about accepting yourself, and healing the wounds in ourselves," said Fierstein.

One of the first openly gay performers to conquer Broadway, starting with 1982's semi-autobiographical "Torch Song Trilogy" about a drag artist, he won Tonys for best play and best actor.

When it came time to find someone to write the songs that would bring the small story of a struggling provincial shoe factory in England to singing-and-dancing life on stage, Fierstein turned to his friend, Lauper, although she had never written a Broadway tune, let alone an entire show.   Continued...

Actors Stark Sands (L) and Billy Porter are shown in this undated publicity photograph from the Broadway production of the "Kinky Boots" which opens on Broadway April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Matthew Murphy Copyright/Handout