A fetish for footwear
What: Kinky Boots
When: 7 pm Thu., Feb. 28
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104. N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
True story: In the 1990s, a British guy named Steve Pateman did some heavy duty sole searching and soon thereafter worked to save his family-run shoe factory from demise by deciding to produce fetish footwear for men. On the path to trying to save his business, the formerly strait-laced boss had to learn to shave his legs and walk in six-inch stiletto heels.
It’s also correct that a short BBC2 documentary about Pateman’s “Divine Footwear” inspired the 2005 film Kinky Boots, and factual to state that Tony Award-winning producer Daryl Roth saw the film the following year at the Sundance Film Festival and fell in love with its “heart and soul.”
By the time Roth and co-producer Hal Luftig brought Kinky Boots to Broadway in spring of 2013, the origin story was still intact, but a few liberties had been taken with its plot trajectory.
It was still a tale of a man who formed an unlikely alliance with a transgender business partner to produce a line of high-heeled boots for men, but the power duo of playwright Harvey Fierstein and iconic pop musician Cyndi Lauper had been tasked with copy and song duties, so it had also been transformed into an award-winning musical.
Fierstein has noted he thinks the film version of Kinky Boots is more about the saving of the shoe factory, while the Broadway adaptation focuses more on the relationship between the two main characters, Charlie (based on Pateman) and Lola (loosely based on Sue Sheppard, who still own a business in England selling transgender specialist glamour wear for drag queens).
“Lola was a combination of eight or 10 different people I met along the way,” Pateman told BBC News when the musical first opened in the United States. “They’ve made a few changes of course, but it’s still set in Northhampton—which I imagine is a first for Broadway. But I think the appeal of the story has never changed anyway, all the way back to the original documentary…What people love is the warmth of the relationships in the factory, which was always a sort of family.”
When the touring production of Kinky Boots makes a stop in Bellingham for a Thurs,. Feb. 28 performance at the Mount Baker Theatre, audiences can attempt to discern Pateman’s real-life chain of events from the ones that were added for theatrical effect.
Specifically, I’m thinking of a scene near the end of the play when Charlie sheds the vestiges of his formerly staid existence to walk the runway in Milan in the kinky boots he helped produce. Did that really happen? It’s doubtful, but a girl can dream.
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