Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES NEW YORK TRAVELOGUE PART III
On my last full day I saw “Kinky Boots” with words and music by Cyndi Lauper. It’s had great reviews I’d been told it’s a feel-good show. Sounds like a great way to end my NY experience. I’ve been invited back to see another performance of “Naked Darrow” after this matinee, so I will attend that show again as my final show for this trip.
I had breakfast at a small place that claimed fame. A nice German waitress and good food made that somewhat plausible. Later I took off on the subway to see “Kinky Boots.” Once I was on the subway, I realized I had forgotten my speech device. I tried to get off at the first stop, but people were in my way and I couldn’t even ask them to let me out. I made it out at the second stop and flagged a taxi. I got a taxi right away and then realized I couldn’t tell him where I had to go. I held up fingers to indicate “76.” He understood and asked if I wanted 76th and Broadway. Yes, I nodded, so off we went. It wasn’t that far, so for him it was probably more of a nuisance trip. I went to the hotel and grabbed my voice and took off again for the subway, which required me to walk the same four blocks to the nearest subway station, but at least I had everything I needed. I had to be early to pick up my will call ticket, but I was there well in advance of the requirement. I’m not sure they even follow their own rules anyway. I had a great seat in the 5th row.
“Kinky Boots” is a movie, though I have never seen it. It’s the story of a shoe factory in Northampton, England. That’s not a misspelling. Even the factory name plate said Northampton. It starts with the father and head of the shoe company telling his 10 year old son that one day it will all be his. His son asked what would happen if he didn’t want to make shoes. The father did not respond to this well at all and insisted that he had to do his duty and make the factory work for all the people who had spent their lives working there.
In the next scene, the ten year old morphed cleverly into a twenty-something young man right before our eyes. His fiancée appeared and insisted that they move to London where life was more exciting. He thought he was in love and was willing to do whatever he needed to do to win her heart. Once they got to London and were settling in, word came that his father had died and he needed to come back to run the company he had inherited. He returned to his childhood home ready to sell the company, but learned that it was already in dire straits and would soon go under unless he could come up with a plan.
He returned to London to try to think through the problem. While there he saw a woman attacked and he quickly sprang to her defense, but he was overpowered by the two thugs who had attacked the woman. She, however, took matters into her own hands, or fists, as it turned out. She was a drag queen who had grown up learning to be a professional boxer. She beat the thugs away and then told Charlie, the shoe factory boy, that the only reason she was nearly thwarted was that the heel on her boots had broken. He looked at it and told her that he could fix it.
Eventually Lola, the drag queen, went to Northampton to look at the ideas he had for improving the boots she wore, and Charlie convinced her that the boots she’d been wearing were not designed to support the weight of a man. He asked her to join his enterprise and become his designer. He knew how to build the boots, but she knew what the niche market would respond too: red, sexy, very high-heeled boots.
The company went to work but was still in trouble and hadn’t the money to travel to the fashion show in Milan. But the Lola gathered her friends, also drag queens, and said that they would model the “Kinky Boots” and put on a much more entertaining show than regular models.
The factory bully wouldn’t accept these unusual men/women and harassed them mercilessly. Eventually Lola challenged the bully to a boxing match. She threw the match and let him win, but he knew that she was badly beating him. She challenged him to learn to accept someone for what they truly were.
Eventually the workers, led by the bully, all worked overtime to make sure that the show came together for Milan and they all wore “Kinky Boots” and danced to their hearts content. In the finale, the entire cast danced and sang wearing thigh-high, high-heeled boots fashioned from bright patent leather colors. With music and words by Cyndi Lauper, it was an uproarious show that was wonderfully entertaining.
After that show I returned to watch another performance of “Naked Darrow.” The crew had been so apologetic about missing some of the cues on the opening night when I was there, and they really wanted me to come back. I had planned on watching the Tony Awards, but decided that this would be more important.
The show was much better executed this time around. All of the sound and music cues were properly placed, and there was just more organization to the whole performance. The audience was fuller and responsive. One guy who placed himself in the front row incessantly blew his nose throughout the show. It was most distracting and very poor manners. Another guy down the row from me started coughing near the end of the show, and the suggestion began to make others cough, almost as if it was contagious. I could forgive the guy who coughed. He tried his best to subdue it. He had a bottle of water in his hand, but didn’t seem to realize that it might help his cough. The nose blower was most frustrating, or should I say stupid? Yes, I think stupid is the right word for his behavior. Still, the show came off without a hitch.
Afterwards, Gary, the playwright and actor, Cynthia, the producer and I went to Serafina for a bite to eat and some conversation before I headed out the next morning. After a fitful rest I woke up to news that storms would hit at about noon, and my flight was scheduled to board at 2:15. I called the airline to see if I could get an earlier flight, which surprisingly, worked perfectly. I did have to fly through Chicago, but I just stayed on the plane while it reloaded for the last leg to St. Louis. I even managed to change my Cape Air flight, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, and was back in Kirksville by 3 p.m. on Monday. All in all it was a great trip, and I don’t think I’ll wait another thirty years to return. My previous trips to NY had been in 1964 and then 1983. I think I can do better than that.