Friday, 15 September 2017

Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre

I had the pleasure of seeing Kinky Boots for the first time on Broadway among an audience of its creatives such as Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper in the week before it swept the Tony's by winning six of the thirteen categories it was nominated in, including Best Musical – it was a memorable experience. The show strutted into the West End in 2015 and while it's taken a little while to find its feet (I wasn't as blown away by the original West End cast back then as I was by the Broadway one), it has really managed to carve out a 'kinky' niche for itself in London.

Based on the 2005 feature film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Joel Edgerton, Kinky Boots tells the tale of shoe factory Price and Son in England's Northampton, which is at risk of being closed down because they've been out-marketed by cheaper alternatives. The only way Charlie Price (David Hunter) can save the factory is if he follows in the footsteps of similar companies and finds a new niche market.

That's where flamboyant drag queen Lola (Simon-Anthony Rhoden) comes in, who is in desperate need of a pair of knee-high boots that can support the weight of a man while at the same time keeping the feminine design and towering, spikey heels he adores so much. It's a challenge Charlie is eager to accept to take his mind off the pain of his father's recent passing, which has left him so suddenly in charge of the family-run business – a responsibility he is not sure he is cut out for...

I have seen this show twice before: once on Broadway with the original cast days before they won at the Tony's so the atmosphere in the theater was simply buzzing, and once after it had just opened in London and it unfortunately lacked that sassy spark that made me fall in love with it in the first place.

Returning to the show after two years and having not obsessed over the cast recording for a while was a good idea as I got to enjoy it anew, almost as if seeing the story unfold for the very first time – and that is definitely how it is best enjoyed.

Kinky Boots is sassy and sparkly, and its greatest strength lies in its catchy score by music legend Cyndi Lauper (yes, the one and only). Poppy tunes such as Everybody Say Yeah and Raise You Up/Just Be are balanced by powerful showstoppers like Land of Lola and even quieter, more soulful numbers such as Charlie's Soliloquy.

Though, I have to admit, my favourite song in the show has always been the immensely hilarious The History of Wrong Guys in which factory worker Lauren details her disastrous dating history and why her crush on Charlie is oh so very wrong. And Verity Rushworth's portrayal of this loveable character was spot-on, having the entire audience in stitches in her shining moment.

The book by Harvey Fierstein follows very closely in the footsteps of the original movie, but having the wonderful score by Cyndi Lauper and the tight choreography by Broadway's Jerry Mitchell added into the mix, they have transformed this into a true West End-worthy showstopper. The musical sparkles and shines in all the right places, and its heartwarming underlying message leaves its audience with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Even two years into this production in London, Kinky Boots received a full standing ovation at the end, which is a true testimony to its dazzling execution and how this feel-good show about acceptance of others and yourself still resonates with people today.

Many thanks to Official London Theatre for inviting me to see the show in return for an honest review. 


Kinky Boots is playing at the Adelphi Theatre and is currently taking bookings until 24 March 2018. Book your tickets here.



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