For all the extravagance, lively dance numbers and sequins of "Kinky Boots," its message is extremely down to earth.
The new musical, which opens this weekend at Stars Theatre Restaurant, explores what happens when a drag queen helps a man save his family's struggling shoe factory with some unconventional ideas.
"At the end of the day, the story is all about acceptance and compassion," director Alex Neal wrote in an email. "Looking at others and seeing the true person at the core. Despite differences, we all want the same things: love and acceptance."
Jordan Espiritu, who plays Lola, the cabaret performer whose chance meeting with Charlie (Dylan Rogge) leads to an unlikely partnership, said the show is about "open-mindedness and empathy."
"We all have more in common than we think," he said. "We are all just humans trying to get by in our day. There's that old adage 'It takes a village' and that is so true."
Referencing the quote from the show "You change the world when you change your mind," Espiritu said the initially close-minded businessman shows the audience the importance of being understanding.
"You would never expect Charlie to be friends with Lola in the show. This 9-to-5 factory worker and a local nightlife queen, they should never cross paths, so when they do magic happens.... The journey we see Charlie go through, that is the biggest one in the whole show."
Although drag performances are facing political scrutiny today, the musical was named to the theater's season last year.
"When we planned this show over a year ago, we couldn’t have known how relevant it would become and how important it is to tell this story," Neal wrote. "I am very proud of my cast and how they have worked to bring it to life.
"We encourage our audiences to open their hearts and look beyond the makeup and see the story about two men trying to find their own type of acceptance in our modern world and finding friendship in the least likely of places."
Espiritu, who describes himself as an advocate for the arts as well as the LGBTQ+ community, said the timing feels fortuitous.
"A year ago, we had no idea the political climate we would have today," the performer said. "To me, it (the timing) is perfect.
"Drag has a close association with advocacy. Drag is itself a political statement. Dressing in a wig, makeup and heels gets people riled up, but we’re just trying to have fun."
The show balances serious topics with spirited dance numbers and upbeat songs written by Cyndi Lauper.
Espiritu said some numbers evoke Whitney Houston, who has been a singer close to his heart since he was a child.
"I grew up on Whitney in my house. Singing her (Lola's) songs, her ballad was a throwback to childhood for me."
Neal said this was a dream show to direct.
"One of the major draws for me was the upbeat music written by one of my '80s idols, Cyndi Lauper," he wrote. "It’s so fun and energetic, yet emotionally aware. Another was the book written by comedian Harvey Fierstein, it’s so smart and witty."
Both Neal and Espiritu are excited for the community to see the hard work of the cast and crew and hope the show draws viewers from throughout the community.
Espiritu said, "I do want to encourage those who wouldn't normally come to the theater to come to this show."
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.