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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Track By Track: Kinky Boots (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

I really did enjoy Kinky Boots. It was spectacular, funny and touching. The performances across the board were excellent. A lot to appreciate and admire. And yet, I wasn't bowled over. Once was enough for me. Why? Well, I wasn't impressed by Harvey Fierstein's book. It felt like La Cage-lite. In retrospect, perhaps my initial impression of his work, after all, La Cage is pretty much perfection in the drag-queens-save-the-day sub-genre of musical theater. There was one aspect of Kinky Boots, though, that I truly was impressed with - Cyndi Lauper's joyous, heartfelt score. 
Recently, I took the cast recording out of moth balls and gave it a new listen. Here are my thoughts!
 
Track By Track:
Kinky Boots
Original Broadway Cast Recording

Act One
Track 1: Price & Son Theme/The Most Beautiful Thing in the World: ***
So adorable, and so perfectly British sounding. Even the repetition of the words feels natural, a child's memory or a shared experience. And a brilliant transition from the past to the present. Also, our first glimpse at how amazing the ensemble is together. Nice work from Lena Hall Celina Carvajal , too.

Track 2: Take What You Got: ****
A real toe-tapper. And a great duet for two men (love Andy Kelso and Stark Sands).

Track 3: The Land of Lola: ****
Students of musical theater who need an example of how to create a character-driven sound need look no further. To think that this thrilling dance-y tune is the least of Billy Porter's big numbers tells you just how good Lauper is at this. Epiphany, indeed.

Track 4: Charlie's Soliloquy: **** Track 5: Step Up: ***
You know, it isn't difficult to imagine Cyndi singing this song. Both the quiet opening and the urgent rocking of the rest of the number are reminiscent of her biggest hit. The lyrics may not be too deep, but the emotion is there and relatable. 


Track 6: Sex is in the Heel:
*****
Has there been an original Broadway song so infectious and so thematically sound before this one? Maybe, but this is so much fun it's hard to think of another. Smiles and tapping feet throughout!

Track 7: The History of Wrong Guys: *****
Annaleigh Ashford is bloody brilliant here. Comic gold and tear-your-heart- apart. Seems I have a lot with poor Lauren. LOVE this song.

Track 8: Not My Father's Son: *****
There were buckets of tears collected after this song over the years, I'm sure. Oh, how I can relate to Lola here. And, Charlie for that matter. Disappointing our parents is universal.

Track 9: Everybody Say Yeah: *****
Infectious and infinitely catchy. Who knew manufacturing a show could bring one of the millennium's best Broadway act one closers? 


Act Two
Track 10: What a Woman Wants: *****
This might just be my favorite number in the show. A tango in counterpart, into a disco/tropical soiree. Delicious. A terrific number that marries character and plot. Like musical theater songs are supposed to do, right?

Track 11: In This Corner: ****
Maybe they should've had Cyndi Lauper write the score for Rocky?

Track 12: Charlie's Soliloquy (Reprise): **** Track 13: Soul of a Man: ***
A perfect mirror of act one, with the crafty way Lauper paired two sounds together to bring us Charlie's inner feelings and utter turmoil.


Track 14: Hold Me in Your Heart:
****
When I saw this, I immediately thought of Whitney Houston. Listening to it again all these years later, I have the same thought. Can't you just hear her belting this one out? The power of the song is such that it is great in the show, too.

Track 15: Raise You Up/Just Be: *****
Can Cyndi Lauper close a show as brilliantly as she closed the first act? You better believe it! Simplicity and emotional depth aren't usually good bedfellows, but here we are. 

Overall Score: **** 1/4

I can't wait for Cyndi Lauper's next Broadway score!

#2524

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