Review: Kinky Boots – Adelphi Theatre, London

“Pursue the truth, learn something new, accept yourself and you’ll accept others too, let love shine, let pride be your guide, you change the world when you change your mind”

This is but one of the many empowering lyrics from smash-hit musical Kinky Boots. Written by broadway veteran Harvey Fierstein with music and lyrics from pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots has won every major international award for Best Musical. Really. With productions in London, Seoul, Toronto, a tour in the US and a new production opening in Melbourne, Australia, this show is not showing any signs of stopping. And it shouldn’t. It’s that good.

Let’s ignore the detail that I’ve seen Kinky Boots three times since I’ve been in the UK and look at the facts:

  1. It boasts a brilliantly composed score (Lauper won the Tony for Best Score in 2013) with uplifting lyrics that will make you both laugh, cheer and bring you close to tears
  2. The characters are never stereotyped and represent ideals that are relevant within many facets of todays society with these ideals not afraid to poke a bit of fun here and there
  3. It’s just bloody entertaining!

For this review I’m going to focus on the first production I saw in 2015 (Since that is the program I bought).

Kinky Boots, based on the film of the same name, follows the story of Charlie Price (played by Killian Donnelly) whose father owns Price & Sons, a shoe factory in Northampton. Soon after Charlie leaves Northampton to live in London with his fiancé Nicola, his father passes away leaving the factory and its employees in the reluctant hands of Charlie. The factory is going down hill fast and he needs a surefire way to save it, only thing is, he hates making shoes and resents the fact his father pushed him into a career he never wanted. Enter Lola (played with power and more sass than you can poke a stick at by Matt Henry) a drag-queen who Charlie attempts to save from a mugging, this girl can take care of herself however. It’s this encounter that gives Charlie the momentous idea to save the factory by supplying a new product, high-heeled drag boots for men. From here on we’re treated to a tale of acceptance, forgiveness and finding a purpose from your circumstances in life.

The set is simple yet effective, with only three or four changes of scenery needed, it does this seemlessly and is integrated into the sharply designed choreography well. The intermission number ‘Everybody Say Yeah‘ will make your jaw drop at the sheer amount of cardio that must be required of the performers. Whereas other more emotional numbers such as ‘Not My Fathers Son’ and ‘Hold Me in Your Heart’ are stationary with mood lighting to hit it home. There are some songs however that will have you wanting to get out of your chair and dance, ‘Sex is in the Heel’ and ‘Raise You Up/Just Be’ are particular culprits of this. However, the stand-out number, simply due to its comedy and pure Cyndi Lauper-ness is ‘The History of Wrong Guys‘, played spot on every singly night by actress Amy Lennox, who plays cute by chavvy Lauren. Three times I’ve seen it performed and I still laugh each time.

This show however would not be as powerful without the superb ensemble, with each actor giving it their all in their individual roles. To be quite frank, they’re just really damn good singers. This helps particularly in the whole cast songs that blow the audience away. But what good is Lola without her girls? And the Angels deliver. You’d be forgiven for not knowing these blokey looking girls were, well, blokes. They high kick, pirouette and pose their way into the core of each dance number they’re in, all without breaking a sweat or putting a hair out of place.

Dare I say anything that lets it down? I shall. Depending on the cast of the night, the show may drag (excuse the pun) in some places. Particularly in the more low-key songs. If you find yourself drifting in and out, it may be exhaustion from the consistent glamour songs, to suddenly bring yourself back up from this emotional breather requires a lot of wow-factor, rest assured the show brings it.

In summary, I cannot recommend this show enough. I would even recommend it to my Dad, who has only ever seen one other musical (Wicked), knowing he’d give it a thumbs up. Kinky Boots, polish up your finest shoes and get yourself a ticket. Heck, if you have a spare I’ll go for round four.

Rating: 5/5

Watch out for the six-packs on the Angels, they’re more blinding than the glitter.

Kinky Boots is playing at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End. Tickets available at Kinky Boots UK.

Kinky Boots will also be opening in Melbourne, Australia in October 2016 at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Tickets available at Kinky Boots Australia.

Kinky Boots Uk

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