Its Muslim population is not sufficiently integrated.
My Saturday night in London was spent in the theater watching the hit American musical Kinky Boots with a distinguished Irish historian, and then discussing it over dinner with her. It wasn’t quite my kind of musical—my taste trends more towards Gershwin and Rodgers and Hart—but it proved to be a very instructive one in the dark light of the Islamist murders that occurred about the time we were going from theater to restaurant.
The musical is broadly based on the true story of a failing Northampton shoe factory that saved itself by changing its production of men’s shoes to fetishistic glamor boots as worn by drag queens—indeed, the principal drag queen becomes both the firm’s new designer and the leading model in a team of lady-boys who save the staid old shoe company by putting on a drag show to demonstrate its boots at the Venice Shoe Fair.
I wouldn’t have thought that drag queens were a sufficiently large niche market to save the company, even in jolly old England, but these boots had legs. The story was first made into a British movie in the 1990s, then turned into a musical “book” by Harvey Fierstein (star of, among other works, La Cage aux Folles), then set to music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, herself a successful pop performer and composer, making it to Broadway, six Tony awards, and now finally London’s West End and an Olivier award. The end result was an odd blend—think Ealing Comedy plus brash Broadway sophistication plus “heart”—that somehow worked. Read More