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Kinky Boots: High Kicks for Everyone

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Here is a musical on Broadway with a philosophy a girl can love: Kinky Boots starts with a rousing tribute "The Most Beautiful Thing," to shoes. On a pedestal sit a pair of red patent leather pumps to die for. Fetish, to be sure -- "Sex is in the Heel", Kinky Boots, at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, is comprised of music by rocker Cyndi Lauper with book by Harvey Fierstein based on a charming and memorable British film of the same title, Kinky Boots is also a feel good extravaganza of leggy drag queens and divas including two major talents, Stark Sands and Billy Porter, who as Charlie Price and be-sequined performer Lola, dare to ask the quintessential Fierstein question: what is a man? (This may not be simply a matter of footwear.)

In a red brick factory, far from where fashion matters, Charlie (Sands) takes over his father's failing shoe business. Lola (Porter), a drag queen with soul becomes a catalyst for awakenings to manhood, and that goes for the women too: Annaleigh Ashford is a knockout as Lauren. But with one man in particular, a burly type named Don (Daniel Stewart Sherman), Lola, who trained as a boxer in his youth as Simon, goes head to head. Dan, a man's man must show his mettle, and even he knows, Simon has let him win. It's then a measure of manhood that all sport those kinky boots -- on a runway in Milan.

That goes too for some attending on opening night last Thursday: male fashionistas wore high heels over suits. Also attending: Glenn Close, Christine Baranski, Fern Mallis, Maria Bartilroma, Liz Smith, Iris Love, Christian Borle, Carson Kressley, Mario Cantone, and many others, some who may have cross dressed, or at least had an over the top look. Bring in the Fashion Police. The Angels, Lola's back up dancers, seemed all to look to Joan Rivers seated third row on the aisle. Many kisses were blown. Catching up at the afterparty at the Marriot Marquis, I asked Dan what it felt like to teeter on his heels. "They were more comfortable than I imagined," he said gamely. Did you think, I'm not dancing in THOSE. "Jerry Mitchell is not a director you say no to."

Cyndi Lauper, her hair a puffed up tutti frutti confection, took a break from greeting well-wishers. Having started out at the same time as Madonna, she went on as a serious composer and powerhouse pop voice, and at one time filled a niche as a boxing rocker. Like her famous renditions of "True Colors" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," the songs in this new musical will have legs. Now, ironically, Lauper was having a problem with her feet. Not with her Kinky Boots, though; this show is a hit.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.