By Veronica U-K.
With entrancing music by the lovely, Cyndi Lauper, and a basis of the 2005 film by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth (which was inspired by a true story) the musical tells of a struggling, Northampton shoe factory’s young owner, Charlie Price, who forms a surprising partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to save his father’s business. Charlie intends to produce custom footwear for drag queens and kings (rather than the men’s dress shoes that his father made the factory so well-known for). Finding this new niche market, Charlie soon learns what it really means to be a man, in love, and an individual.
I will admit, when the musical’s theme, “Price and Son” first began playing in the empty shoe factory, on stage last month, I was weary of the show…I mean really Cyndi Lauper? You had such potential…that is until the cast was unleashed belting the sweet, genuine chorus of “The Most Beautiful Thing in the World” (which mind you, not even an eight hour train ride home will be able to get out of your head). From that point, I was drawn into an ethereal world full of leather, stereotyping, misunderstanding, prejudice, and of course, SHOES!
Overall, the show is easily relatable with its shameless, emotional, “button pushing” disposition. With the archetypal themes of finding true love and acceptance, you don’t need to wear stilettos to relate to the characters. As the story progresses, life lessons are handed out as readily as a broken gumball machine.
The main theme of overcoming stereotypes and prejudice is especially present in the relationship between Lola and a worker in Charlie’s factory, Don. The two hardly see eye to eye, in the beginning, as their relationship is that of the typical playground bully picking on the “new kid.” But after a glamorous boxing match, the
two seem to finally learn to get along and realize the main problem of Charlie’s failing factory is the bigger issue at hand.
Likewise, the sub-plot story of Lauren, another one of Charlie’s workers is equally relatable, with her teenage-like cries of crushing on someone who just doesn’t seem to see her. (I swear Ms. Lauper based her song, “The History of Wrong Guys” on my love life.) Her story is sweet and light-hearted; yet, still addresses the main theme of acceptance, as she waits for Charlie to see how much better she is for him than his uptight, status-conscious girlfriend, Nicola.
Of course, none of this story would even be remotely interesting if it wasn’t for the genuine lyrics and chords of Ms. Lauper. Ever since her debut, 1983 album, “She’s So Unusual” the finely tuned and genuine cries of emotional distress, among the glittered goofiness, bring a poignant, lamentful joy to the show, as both Lola and Charlie find they are “not their fathers’ sons.”
So if you don’t gain anything else from the show, at least take a lesson from Ms. Lola and “change your mind about someone.”
And because this is my friend AJ’s favorite number, here is a production of “Sex is in the Heel.”