For those of you that follow the Good Works Podcast, it will come as no surprise that I went to see Kinky Boots last night at the Clemens Center. From the size of the crowd, I’m pretty sure you know plenty of people that attended. There is not much I would rather do than spend an evening at our gorgeous historical theater with a few thousand other community members gathered to take in a show.
Occasionally a show comes a long that speaks to a specific cultural moment. I’d be willing to argue that Dear Evan Hansen is speaking up about loneliness and alienation at the exact right time, and looking back to the late 1990’s when we were all Rent-heads, we were coming to terms with what AIDS meant to Generation X.
This is not the case with Kinky Boots. It appears to appeal to a narrow audience of drag queen fans/avid shoe collectors, but by the end of the show (that serves up the happiest finale to a musical this side of How to Succeed at Business without Really Trying’s Brotherhood of Man) the entire theater is on their feet, clapping along and wondering if they could dance in those thigh-high stilettos.
How does it manage to transcend? With a universal message of acceptance. No matter what you look like on the outside, or where you live, you want to feel valued by your community. During the final song, Lola (the designer of the kinky boots central to the plot of the show) presents her “Six Step Program” to a life well-lived.
1. Pursue the truth
2. Learn something new
3. Accept yourself and accept others too
4. Let love shine
5. Let pride be your guide
6. You change the world when you change your mind
This is the kind of advice that never goes out of style. I can imagine myself playing this song for generations to come when I’m the retired octogenarian bopping around town like some of my favorite people of today. Even though I can’t quite envision the specific challenges we will be facing in 2058, if we follow these steps, I know we will be a lot closer to finding a solution.