The term “kinky” can swing both ways. It’s not exactly a topic suited for conversation over dinner, Yet here we are, applauding and whistling at every unapologetically sparkly and sassy heel kick Lola tosses on the stage of Singapore’s run of Kinky Boots.

Directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, with music written by Grammy® and Tony® winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots is a musical eargasm that begs for encores. From its first show in 2012, premiering at the Bank of America Theatre in Chicago, Kinky Boots has become a timeless classic that celebrates the differences of others, a narrative that is very much relevant today.

The story follows Charlie Price, your run-of-the-mill average guy. He’s lacklustre and unambitious, an easy welcome mat for his superficial girlfriend to walk all over. The only thing he was sure of in his life was his refusal to inherit his father’s shoe factory. But with his father’s sudden death, Charlie’s (or more like his girlfriend’s) dream of living a successful city life in London is put on hold. Charlie now finds himself in a predicament. As the new owner of an entire business that he wants no part of, selling shoes that no one wants to buy.

Enter Lola (a.k.a Simon), a cabaret performer and drag queen. Her sequined red dress a striking breath of fresh air from the otherwise monotonous set and the dull blue and grey hues of Charlie’s attire – a lustrous harbinger of great change to come. Lola and her ferocious pair of kinky boots are exactly what Charlie needs to save his father’s shoe business from going down the drain. By taking a venture to provide sturdy heels for this otherwise neglected niche market of queens, both Charlie and Lola take a leap of faith to form a partnership and friendship rarely seen before. Embracing the unconventional was the very solution Charlie needed to save his father’s shoe factory.

But Kinky Boots digs deeper than the message of accepting non-heteronormativity; this kinky musical pushes forth the message of accepting others, full-stop. Charlie’s mediocracy doesn’t exclude him from this need. Every person has their own kink, every character had their own flaw – which to be honest was for me harder to accept than Simon’s preference to dress in drag. From Don’s obnoxious display of hypermasculinity, Charlie’s inefficiency, Lauren’s high-pitched fickleness and Nicola’s materialistic superficiality…you get the point.

Jos N. Banks, who you may know from 2014 National Tour of Hair, gives an excellent performance of Lola. Whether it’s as Lola or Simon, Banks successfully evokes the complex emotions and conditions his character faces as a queen who goes against the norm. He gives a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’, a love song for his father to unconditionally accept him for who he is. But at the same time, it’s also a song addressed to the audience to love him as both Lola and Simon.

While Charlie was not exactly my favourite character, Lance Bordelon’s soulful rock vocals stole the show. I must admit he did grow on me when he finally decided to “man-up” and put on his own pair of kinky boots. In fact, the finale had everyone donning a pair while executing sassy vogue dance moves.

The play also briefly tackled the theme of masculinity through the various male relationships; particularly with Lola and Charlie’s heartfelt duet ‘I’m Not My Father’s Son’ revealing the struggle they faced in meeting their fathers’ expectations. Masculinity ideals – such as the need to be tough and heteronormative – can be toxic to men too. But as Lola demonstrates, both vulnerability and strength are not, and should not, be restricted to gender.

To be kinky is to be abnormal and atypical. Kinky Boots is empowering as it is humbling, calling us to be more compassionate with others and to be more confident in ourselves, making it well worth watching.

Kinky Boots is running now till 14 October 2018 at Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands. Tickets are priced from $65 to $185, available here.