Review of 'Kinky Boots'

kinky_boots.jpg http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.co.uk/

Kinky Boots is most definitely a British musical both in body and soul. It tells the story of Charlie Price (David Hunter) a young man whose father runs a men's shoe factory in Northampton. Charlie and his fiance Nicola move to London for her to pursue a career in real estate but a short time later Charlie is called back to Northampton when his father dies. Charlie is left in charge of the factory which he learns has severe financial difficulties with little demand for the traditional men's shoes they manufacture. On a trip to London Charlie comes to the aid of the charismatic drag queen Lola (Simon-Anthony Rhoden) who was being mugged in an alley. In an off-hand comment Lola mentions how uncomfortable she finds the cheap knee-high boots she wears in her act. From this the seeds are sown and Charlie soon comes up with the idea of manufacturing “kinky boots” - Boots for drag stars. Enlisting the design talents of Lola, Charlie faces an uphill struggle to not only convince the factory workers this will work but also come to grips on what he really wants out of life…

A tremendously fun musical with fantastic dance numbers, particularly with Lola and her “Angels”, and great music written by Cyndi Lauper (yes, THE Cyndi Lauper). I can always tell when I have seen a great musical when I can actually remember one or more of the numbers the next day. Today I was on YouTube looking at the signature “Raise You Up” number – A very good sign.

The set is ingenious with an elevated central platform on which is perched the factory office that moves on and off the stage as required, under which the factory goes about it's normal business. The set detail is quite incredible with the care of the designer very much in evidence with even the slightest detail such as the realistic looking shoe making equipment or the shoe molds in racks on the walls. Often it seems cramped on the stage with the performers having to weave in and out it but this actually adds to the tight feeling of the musical itself - Of the walls, or hard reality, closing in on us. This is contrast to the clutter free staging when Lola performs - A space of liberation, freedom and fun.

The pace of the two-act show (with 20 minute interval) is truly breathtaking as the scenes come thick and fast (particularly early on). The performers certainly earn their keep here. As far as voices go, Rhoden particularly stood out as he fully threw himself into the fun and exciting character of Lola. Hunter, despite what seems to be a slight lisp, puts in a considered and sensitive performance as Charlie with a particularly wonderful solo in “Soul of a Man” in the second act. The Angels and the rest of the company all put on expressive and vibrant performances that bring the whole thing to life. This is the second cast for this show but from what I can see they have really nailed it.

The crowd really got into the performance with a standing ovation at the end. There were, let me tell you, a lot of smiling faces.

I was kind of wondering whether the focus would be on the somewhat uncomfortable subject, at least for a musical, of the sexuality of cross-dressing (yes, Rocky Horror, I am thinking of you here) but in this I was mistaken. This is a fun and tenderhearted musical that teaches us that we should be what we want to be rather than what others want you to be. I would suggest that we want to be going to this musical…

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-10-04



Adelphi Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: Adelphi Theatre Strand London WC2R 0NS

Public Transport: TUBE Charing Cross TUBE Leicester Square TUBE Covent Garden

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3725 7060

URL: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/adelphi

Situated right on the Strand on the edge of the West End the Adelphi may be a bit smaller but it is well known for staging some of the longest running shows in town. The art deco exterior extends to the interior with fairly bland and boring decor throughout.