Kinky Boots teaching us to walk in others shoes

Last month I went to San Francisco to see the stage production of the musical “Kinky Boots.” I’ve listened to the soundtrack for years and have been waiting to see the stage production.  Prior to attending the stage version of “Kinky Boots” I knew the story through the songs. I would say the story is genius as well, but it actually is based on a true story…one that still rings true, almost more so, today.  The musical tells of a struggling British shoe factory’s owner Charlie, who forms an unlikely partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to save the business. Charlie, the storys main charachter, had gone off to London to live an artists life leaving his father and his fathers company, the aptly named,  “Price and Son” behind.  When his father dies, Charlie is forced home and takes over the shoe factory but struggles to be the person his father was (and the person his father wanted him to be). Charlie develops a plan to produce custom foot wear for drag queens, rather than the men’s dress shoes that his firm is known for, and in the process, he and Lola discover that they are not so different after all. We could learn a lot from the examples of Charlie and Lola. In one song, “Not My Fathers Son,” a duet between Charlie and Lola, both sing about a longing for approval to be who they are.

(LOLA)

When I was just a kid
everything I did, was to be like him
under my skin
My father always thought,
if I was strong and fought
not like some albatross, I’d begin
to fit in

Look at me powerless and holding my breath
trying hard to repress what scared him to death
It was never easy to be his type of man
to breathe freely was not in his plan
and the best part of me
is what he wouldn’t see

I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

So I jumped in my dreams and found an escape
maybe I went to extremes of leather and lace,
but the world seems brighter six inches off the ground
and the air seemed lighter
I was profound and I felt so proud
just to live out loud

I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

The endless story of expectations swirling inside my mind
wore me down
I came to a realization and I finally turned around
to see

that I could just be me

(Charlie)
I’m not my fathers son
I’m not the image of what he dreamed of

(Lola)
With the strength of Sparta and the patience of Job,

(Charlie/Lola)
still couldn’t be the one
to echo what he’d done
and mirror what was not in me

(Lola)
We’re the same, Charlie boy,
you and me.

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