Kinky Boots

Prod_08 Matt Crockett
Matt Henry and Angels in Kinky Boots
Photo credit: Matt Crockett

September saw one of the most eagerly anticipated openings of the year: the West End transfer of Kinky Boots. Opening on Broadway in 2013 and based on the film of the same name (and real events), Kinky Boots tells the story of reluctant Northampton shoe factory owner Charlie (Killian Donnelly) and how his chance encounter with drag queen Lola (Matt Henry) helps turn the business’ fortunes around.

The show is a brilliant collaboration between Jerry Mitchell (director/choreographer), Cyndi Lauper (music & lyrics) and Harvey Fierstein (book), that succeeds in making you laugh, cry & tap your feet. Lauper’s soundtrack is a fine piece of work – from disco stomp (Land of Lola) to upbeat pop rock (Step One) and tear-jerking ballad (Not My Father’s Son). It’s great to hear such a variety of styles within one show, and that they all fit together so well. Surely a UK cast recording can’t be too far away now?

The set (designed by David Rockwell) is impressive, transitioning between scenes with ease, and making good use of the height available on the stage. I also love that Lola has signature red lighting in many scenes, thanks to Kenneth Posner‘s design.

KINKY BOOTS
Amy Ross and Killian Donnelly in Kinky Boots
Photo credit: Johan Persson

A hugely talented cast has been assembled for this show. The Angels are truly stunning, as well as daring; anyone with the guts to execute a perfect backflip in six-inch heels is worthy of some respect!

Killian Donnelly does a solid job as Charlie, particularly excelling at the comedy, as well as belting out several numbers with ease. I wouldn’t say this performance is up there with his most iconic turns of Deco (The Commitments) & Huey (Memphis), however he is enjoyable nonetheless.

It’s a shame that Nicola’s song was cut from the show before it made it to Broadway, as we are robbed of hearing more of Amy Ross’ beautiful singing voice. Her moments onstage, however, are full of personality and characteristic enthusiasm. Tim Prottey-Jones was on as Don for the performance I watched – he certainly provides entertainment value! Amy Lennox is hilarious as Lauren, from start to finish. She has fantastic comic timing, and her solo number (The History of Wrong Guys) is a real highlight of the entire show.

But, for me, the real star turn comes from Matt Henry as Lola. Simultaneously glam, strong, camp & vivacious, and possessing a voice that fills the auditorium with ease. He is also more than capable of tugging on the heartstrings, harnessing a raw emotion to devastating effect. This is a career-defining role for him, of that there is no doubt.

KINKY BOOTS
Amy Lennox in Kinky Boots
Photo credit: Johan Persson

My verdict? An uplifting hit that you won’t be able to take your eyes off – a sure-fire hit ready in time for awards season.

Rating: 4*


Kinky Boots runs at the Adelphi Theatre, currently booking until 28 May 2016. Today Tix runs a daily ticket lottery, and day seats are available from 10.30am each day – both £25.

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