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Musical 'Kinky Boots' tells people to love themselves as they are

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By Dong Sun-hwa

A scene from the musical
A scene from the musical "Kinky Boots" featuring actor Seo Kyung-soo, who plays cabaret performer Lola / Courtesy of CJ ENM
Since the musical "Kinky Boots" started its fifth run in Korea on July 20, the theatrical show has been generating a buzz among people. As of Wednesday, it is the third most-popular musical in terms of ticket sales after only "Elisabeth" and "Thrill Me," according to ticket-booking company Interpark.

Its popularity stands to reason. The show is a visual spectacle full of eye-catching scenes and performances, which still manages to relay a meaningful message to people. By highlighting those who are neither heroes nor saints, the musical tells people to love themselves as they are. The protagonists of "Kinky Boots" sometimes doubt themselves and feel powerless when they face hurdles, but in the end, they succeed in forging their own paths without losing their cool. These characters inspire the audience members to do the same to search for their own happiness.

Based on the 2005 movie of the same name ― which follows the true story of a shoe factory owner named Steve Pateman ― the musical "Kinky Boots" revolves around Charlie Price, a young Englishman who inherits a loss-making shoe factory from his father. In an effort to make a breakthrough, he partners with cabaret performer and drag queen Lola to produce high-heeled boots for men. Although the two sometimes clash due to their polar-opposite personalities, they gradually learn ways to understand each other and showcase glamorous, never-before-seen shoes together.

A scene from the musical
A scene from the musical "Kinky Boots" featuring Kim Sung-kyu, who plays Charlie Price / Courtesy of CJ ENM

The Tony award-winning musical is packed with mood-lifting numbers, but among them, "Land of Lola," "Everybody Say Yeah" and "Raise You Up" stand out. When the red-clad Lola makes the first appearance on stage with "Land of Lola," the character steals the scene with vibrant yet daring dance movements. "Everybody Say Yeah," the last number of Act 1, easily gets people in a festive mood while "Raise You Up" successfully wraps up the show, turning it into a party for everyone on the spot.

Lee Seok-hoon, a member of vocal group SG Wannabe, Kim Sung-kyu, the leader of K-pop boy band INFINITE, and musical actor Shin Jae-beom had been alternating the role of Price, but the musical's production company CJ ENM announced Kim's withdrawal on Tuesday, citing health issues. According to Kim's record label Double H Ent., the actor recently suffered a broken jaw and will undergo an operation soon.

Actors Choi Jae-rim, Kang Hong-seok and Seo Kyung-soo play Lola in turn. Although this is the first time that Seo has taken the role of Lola, he has been receiving rave reviews from the viewers for his flawless depiction of a multi-faceted character.

The musical "Kinky Boots" is scheduled to run until Oct. 23 at Chungmu Arts Center in central Seoul.

Dong Sun-hwa

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