Kinky Boots is a show with a whole lot of sole


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Kinky Boots is a show with a whole lot of sole

Kinky Boots The MusicalIt’s taken three years to make it across the Atlantic, but finally Kinky Boots is high-kicking its way onto the West-End stage. Based on the 2005 Britcom of the same name, this Northampton-based musical has been wowing audiences across the pond since 2012 and is now ensconced in the Adelphi, ready to take on its first British audiences with its first British cast.

With heart-warming book by Harvey Fierstein, toe-tapping music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and stunning, sequin-spangled costumes by Gregg Barnes, it is everything one expects from a musical – with a twist. For many of the endless, toned legs, gleaming smiles and spritzed, bouffant locks belong not to women, but to men. Yes, ladies, gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their minds, the Drag Queens have arrived. And my goodness do they bring a much needed dose of razzle-dazzle to the rain spattered West-End.

The story itself is not, on the face of it, particularly glamorous. Charlie Price, a small-time man, is struggling to save a small-time shoe factory in Northampton from closure. Just when it seems that all is lost he meets Lola, a cabaret drag-queen from Clacton, and the business – and his life – is changed forever. Lola and her backing troupe of “Angels” are in dire need of women’s boots which will support a man’s weight, and Charlie, scenting a niche market, must convince his workforce to accept not only their new professional direction but also Lola herself, whom he has hired as a designer.

There are no surprises to the plot, no startling twists – in fact, you can see what’s coming from two scenes away. But then a show like this is designed to entertain and to move, not to challenge or to shock. The story is mildly sexy whilst remaining family-friendly, and the themes of acceptance and father-son expectations are charming but not wildly original. Fierstein had not at first envisaged Kinky Boots as a musical, but it would have been much the poorer for it had he not changed his mind. A musical is a perfect vehicle for a story such as this; Lauper’s songs complement and enhance the gentle plot and the heart-felt emotion perfectly, whilst at the same time providing a feel-good atmosphere which is hard to beat. They are not particularly memorable in themselves, with the exception maybe of the soul-searching number I’m Not My Father’s Son, but they are fun, well-paced and entirely appropriate for the ambiance of the show.

A strong cast also helps to make the evening go with a swing. Killian Donnelly is a sweet, unassuming, everyman Charlie, with a lovely line in alarmed squeaks and horrified looks. Love-interest Lauren, played by Amy Lennox, only really comes into her own when singing – but when she does she brings the house down. Her rendition of The History Of Wrong Guys was a masterclass in comic musical performance. Matt Henry is a delight as Simon/Lola; brassy, motherly and vulnerable in turns. He manages to keep just the right side of caricature, not an easy task with such a larger-than-life persona, and to infuse the role with genuine warmth and emotion. He has a pure, strong voice, particularly evident during his rendition of Hold Me In Your Heart, which he sings utterly straight and with an intensity that sends pleasurable shivers down the spine.

Mention must of course also go to the Angels, who light up the stage whenever they appear whilst at the same time displaying breath-taking athleticism in some truly vertiginous heels. And finally, the true star of the show – the Boots themselves. Designer Gregg Barnes has really gone to town; the sheer variety of leather, snakeskin, stiletto, glitter and lacing makes for a gorgeous visual feast. Huge congratulations to the whole cast for learning to walk in them, let alone dance; I know that I wouldn’t have made it half way across the stage before plunging into the pit.

All in all, Kinky Boots is a show with a whole lot of Sole.

4 Stars

Review by Genni Trickett

Kinky Boots is Broadway’s huge hearted, high heeled hit and it’s coming to London! With songs by Grammy and Tony award winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this joyous musical celebration is about the friendship we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.

With direction and choreography by two time Tony award winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray) and a book by Broadway legend and four time Tony award winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), Kinky Boots is the winner of 6 Broadway Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography.

Take a step in the right direction and discover that sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out…

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamourous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Sons . With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

Killian Donnelly will not be performing on the following dates: 14-16 December 2015
Matt Henry will not be performing on the following dates: 23-28 November 2015

Buy Tickets

 

Kinky Boots
Adelphi Theatre
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm

Tuesday 15th September 2015