Kinky Boots Review: It’s No Drag – but a Musical Worth Seeing

Dennis Beck / Broadway Tour / BroadwayTour.net

Kinky Boots is a thing of unexpected beauty. The musical won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and then continued to scoop up every major musical award in its climb to success. Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, in combination with direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, transport the audience into a singing-dancing haven with a feelgood atmosphere.

The story follows Charlie Price (played by David Hunter) a man set on escaping the dreary ends of Northampton for a glitzier life in London with his fiancé, but then tragedy strikes: Charlie’s father – and owner of the family shoe-making business – dies, leaving Charlie as head of the money-draining ‘Price and Sons’. Orders for men’s baroque shoes are dwindling, and the pressure on Charlie builds as he has to save his family’s legacy and stop himself from descending into financial ruin. Charlie has to live up to his father’s passion and work ethic, as well as make enough to scrape by and pay the wages of his life-long friends in employment there.

He has all but given up until he meets the spunky Lola. When she is attacked by thugs Charlie valiantly jumps to her aid. Little does he know that the lady is a charismatic cross-dresser who can fight her own fights. The offbeat musical swims against the current of the conventional by making the star of the show this empowered drag queen with a turbulent past. Lola (played by Matt Henry) makes a bold statement about who she is by her comparison of drag queens and transvestites. The former dress and paint their faces impeccably, whereas the latter are akin to people ‘who look like Winston Churchill in their mum’s knickers.’

The chance encounter is as charming as any meet cute in the movies. Except here it is no romantic union between man and woman, but an opportune get-out-of-jail-free card. Lola opens Charlie’s eyes to a gold-mine opportunity to maximise on what has been missing from the shoe market: drag queens need thigh-high stiletto extravaganzas that can support the weight of a man. Ding! Niche market. The ‘two-and-a-half feet of irresistible tubular sex’ are a born vision and Charlie, along with Lola as designer, put their best foot forward to make exactly the shoe to fit the bill.

Henry is convincing in his portrayal of Lola, as his Adonis-like figure slips effortlessly into a red sequin asset-enhancing dress. He dances in it, face coated in layers of colourful makeup that highlights and exaggerates his natural features for extra chicness, backed by a sextet of drag queens called the Angels. They spruce up the dull backdrop of the factory by whirling in sexy-minx outfits that send the audience into a shocked-amazed state of hilarity. Their opening quip is welcoming and sets the scene for what’s to come: ‘Ladies, gentlemen and those who are yet to make up your mind.’

The girls wear a plethora of outfits: sequin crimson dresses, union-jack blazers that have a spinning bow-like appendage hanging at the back coupled with a teasing mini-skirt and knee-high stilettos. At one point comes a stunning black bikini number, which accentuates a little too much of the prize jewels. The costumes add to the sensation that is Kinky Boots, and help amalgamate all the audience’s sporadic laughs into a full-blown fit of guffawing merriment.

Kinky Boots’ London home is the Adelphi Theatre.

Performances are at 7:30pm Monday to Saturday with tickets available from £25.

 

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