Review: Kinky Boots at Wales Millennium Centre

Kinky Boots
Review

VERDICT:
★★★★☆
“an upbeat, feel-good show that you won’t forget”

Kinky Boots is a show full of glitz, glamour and some amazing positive messages that everyone could do with remembering, especially today. Set in Northampton, Charlie Price is forced to take over the family business at Price and Son shoe factory following his father’s death. As paths unexpectedly cross with drag queen Lola, the pair work together to re-invent the shoe factory and make knee-high fabulous 6-inch boots for drag queens.

The story is very familiar to audiences before it even unfolds; it is a typical plot of against-all-odds and British grit, reflecting similar themes as that of The Full Monty and Calendar Girls, but Kinky Boots has something that these other shows don’t: the music by Cyndi Lauper really stood out to me as being part of the glamour of this show, and could be one of the reasons I loved it so much.

The Cast of Kinky Boots UK Tour

Joel Harper-Jackson is an enjoyable quirky and awkward Charlie, who gives an enjoyable performance. I wouldn’t say his singing was his strength, but his acting more than made up for it. He was endearing at times, always passionate about his ideas and engaging in more ways than one. I particularly enjoyed his role in the finale of the show (no spooilers!) His renditions of Step One and Soul Of A Man were good but didn’t blow me away.

Paula Lane, similarly, doesn’t have the vocals of Annaleigh Ashford who originated the role on Broadway, and I found her performance of The History of Wrong Guys to be pitchy, and at times even difficult to listen to due to some very off notes, but as this ecentric and goofy character, I’m surprised to say that it sort of worked? I still would have preferred it had she been able to belt the notes as they were inevitably written, but similar to Joel Harper-Jackson, her acting carries her through the show.

Paula Lane and Joel Harper-Jackson in Kinky Boots UK Tour

However, the show is undoubtedly stolen by Kayi Ushe in the role of fabulous, quick-witted and personality-filled draq queen Lola. His comedic timing is second-to-none and his stage presence meant I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second, let alone his fantastic dance and singing skils. His true acting ability shines when he introduces himself to both Charlie and the audience as Simon; the man behind the costumes and makeup. His duet Not My Father’s Son with Harper-Jackson was simply beautiful and heart-breaking in equal measure.

You cannot review this show without also mentioning Lola’s gorgeous Angels, who were played by Connor Collins, John J. Jempsey, Damon Gould, Joshua Levell, Toyan Thomas-Browne and Jason Winter. Their dancing was phenomenal, and the way they strut in sync around the stage in 6-inch boots was impressive to say the least. The choreography and direction from Jerry Mitchell therefore certainly has to be praised, with the “conveyer belt” dance section during Everybody Say Yeah was particularly memorable.

Kayi Ushe and the Cast of Kinky Boots UK Tour

Kinky Boots is a show that the world needs right now. It brings up important topical issues such as gender, sexuality and masculinity without losing its fun and upbeat nature. You’ll be singing the songs for days, but also won’t forget the importance of the show. Some of the key messages in the show are being who you want to be, whether that relates to sexuality or not, and the idea that you can change the world when you change your mind, and this is something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

The cast of Kinky Boots UK Tour

This is a show that will make you laugh out loud, shed a tear, and have your toe tapping throughout, and mixed with some glitz, glamour and drag queens, what more could you want? It’s an upbeat, feel-good show that you won’t forget!

Kinky Boots plays at Wales Millennium Centre until 3 August before heading to Dublin, Southampton, Norwich and more on its UK tour.

OneWomanWestEndShow

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