The Moral of Kinky Boots

The musical “Kinky Boots” comes to Reno’s Pioneer Center from Jan. 26 to 28. | Matthew Murphy

While society moves increasingly toward diversity, inclusion and freedom of expression, as soon as someone does something new, off the wall or controversial, he or she is met with streams of tweets both celebrating and chastising the behavior.

Jan. 26-28 | 8 p.m.
Pioneer Center | Reno, Nev.

Although it sometimes feels that this push and pull is enough to cause civilization to spontaneously combust, this sort of tension has been part of our existence since the first proto-human strapped leaves to his feet and called them shoes — while his companions laughed from the edges of unenlightened caves.

“It teaches people confidence and brings a sense of camaraderie. If we are all accepting together, we can make beautiful things happen in the world.”-Sydney Patrick

When the traveling Broadway tour of “Kinky Boots” arrives in Reno, it’s sure to remind audiences of the importance of being understanding of fellow brethren who are, may we say, a little bit different.

“I think this musical is important because we are at a big turning point in society where we are trying to be as open and accepting of everyone as we can,” says lead actress Sydney Patrick. “But depending on your environment, it’s not always possible for everyone to be who they want to be no matter what other people think. [“Kinky Boots”] teaches people confidence and brings a sense of camaraderie. If we are all accepting together, we can make beautiful things happen in the world.”

Patrick grew up in a musical family and graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater in 2014. She plays heroine Lauren in the musical.

“I used to play cello, but had too much energy for it,” says the 26-year-old Miami native. “The character Lauren is a total zany nutbrain. She acts however she feels and is not really shy. So, I get to explore the crazy side of me, which is so much fun.”

Lauren is one character in the performance who demonstrates a sense of tolerance so integral to any healthy community.

“I like Lauren because she’s just so real, openhearted, excited and interested by everything,” says Patrick. “She’s not one of the characters who initially judges anyone. She’s a down-and-dirty girl from Northampton just like the lead character, Charlie.”

When Charlie arrives back in his small hometown on the unexpected death of his father, he is faced with a decision of how to manage his family’s ailing shoe factory. After spontaneously meeting drag queen Lola and his cast of showgirl angels, Charlie and Lauren formulate an untraditional scheme to save the business by moving into the realm of high-heeled men’s boots.

“Kinky Boots” is based on the true story of the W.J. Brooks shoe factory in Northamptonshire, England, which survived the 1970s influx of cheap, foreign manufactured shoes by transitioning from traditional leather into exotic footwear. The 16 original songs in the production were written by 1980s pop star and LGBTQ rights activist Cyndi Lauper of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” fame.

“I love it so much because it’s based on a true story,” says Patrick. “The writers went to the factory and researched the people who worked there. It’s a very relatable plot. The music is amazing. You get to rock out. You get to laugh. It’s also warm and deeply touching.”

As our planet’s populations somehow become increasingly divided and connected at the same time, this may be the perfect opportunity to check out this show.

“I think it’s an amazing message to share with the world right now,” says Patrick. “It’s a story that people need to hear. … It’s all about being who you want to be.”

For more information and for tickets, visit pioneercenter.com.