A couple years back I asked, in a town that annually sees the likes of "Rocky Horror" and "Hedwig" on stage, if "Kinky Boots" could be far behind. But the Tony Award-winning musical is still running on Broadway, so it was the touring company that rolled into town on Monday night to burn down the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

When Price & Son, the family shoe company is about to go under, Charlie Price has a chance encounter with a drag queen named Lola. Could economic salvation suddenly arrive in the form of sturdy boots that can support someone who talks like a woman but walks like a man?

Right before curtain, it was announced that understudies were going on in the two lead roles: Tony Tillman, the third understudy as Lola, and Jace Reinhard, the second understudy, as Charlie.

All I can say is that the talent in this touring company runs really deep and that the audience totally fell in love with Tillman - whose slightly deeper voice added another dimension to Lola's solo songs.

Cyndi Lauper's songs are written not just to be sung but to be performed, while Harvey Fierstein's book comes up with laughs that fit both characters and situations. That is a potent combo.

The end of Act I strings together four great numbers, starting with Lola and the Angels getting everybody on board with Price & Son's new mission statement, "Sex is in the Heel."

As Lauren, the factory girl who discovers she is falling for Charlie, Sydney Patrick sings "The History of Wrong Guys" about her character that is so wonderfully in character you wonder why that is her only song in the show.

The program says Lola sings "Not My Father's Son," but the song is heartbreaking because he sings it out of drag as Simon. Then the first red boot rolls off the assembly line, and the cast rocks the shoe factory with "Everybody Say Yeah" and its conveyor belt choreography.

John Aker Bow's George earned the highest number of laughs per capita, mostly with gestures and looks, and it was hard to keep your eyes off the two tallest Angels.

The start of Act II is devoted to teaching macho-man Don (Adam du Plessis) the virtue of accepting someone for who they are, a lesson that includes "What a Woman Wants" and a slow-motion boxing match.

But then things go needlessly astray when the Charlie from the Mirror Universe arrives (without Spock's telltale goatee) to say the absolutely wrong things to absolutely everybody and we pretend the happy ending is in jeopardy.

Reinhard's big voice delivers on "Soul of a Man," but the song lacks the emotional resonance of "Not My Father's Son" and is totally forgotten when Tillman delivers a powerful "Hold Me in Your Heart" and blows the audience away.

Then it was time for the floor show and for everybody to get into their kinky boots for the bigger-than-big finish, "Raise You Up/Just Be," that literally made the lame walk and raised the dead while the enthusiastic audience happily clapped along in time.