Home / London / Kinky Boots – Adelphi Theatre, London

Kinky Boots – Adelphi Theatre, London

 

Book: Harvey Fierstein

Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper

Director: Jerry Mitchell

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

 

It’s autumn in London, it’s cold, rainy and dark so that can only mean one thing – boots. But imagine if we all swapped our hardwearing, waterproof footwear for something a bit fancier and turned our grey seasonal weather into a glamorous opportunity. Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s new musical Kinky Boots is the latest US musical import hoping to replicate the success of last year’s Memphis. And any show that comes brandishing its Tony-award winning status is bound to raise expectation but has it fallen off its platform heels?

It’s generally a fun night out telling the story of a very English shoe factory in Northampton that’s near closure and saved by the unlikely partnership between the factory owner Charlie and a drag queen called Lola he saves from a mugging. Lola becomes the principle designer of the Price and Sons factory, so it’s out with the brogues and in with the kinky boots. But Lola and Charlie must fight prejudice and their own insecurities to save the business.

It’s really a show of two parts, there’s the big show-stopping numbers that fill the stage with a whirlwind of glitter and heels, and then there’s the schlocky schmaltziness which is a little over earnest. The big set pieces are as good as you’ll see from any West End show including a fabulous pre-interval sequence Everybody Say Yeahwith the whole cast dancing on the conveyor belts and the factory floor as the first shoes are produced. Similarly the feel-good fashion show finale Raise You Upis a brilliantly choreographed riot of light, colour and glitz that sums up the story well and sends the audience home with smiles on their faces.

Less convincing are the show’s more emotional songs in which characters unpack their hearts but these tend towards the insipid. Numbers such as Not My Father’s Son and Soul of Man were beautifully performed but quite cheesy – fairly unforgiveable in a show about feet. Of course both the leads have related daddy issues and of course they must learn to accept themselves to be happy, it’s necessary to balance the brash side with a bit of soul (or sole?) but you could fill your boots with sentimentality which is laid on a bit thick at times.

Performances are all excellent especially Matt Henry as Lola who dominates every scene making it noticeably drab when he’s off-stage. The song Sex is in the Heel is a comic highpoint with Henry perfectly playing up the sultry siren in front of the shocked factory workers. Killian Donnelly is quite touching as factory-owner Charlie whose geeky shyness slowly moulds into respected leadership as the story progresses. It’s an understated performance that allows Henry to shine, and although Donnelly gets a few key songs, they don’t quite allow him to unleash the kind of show-stopping performance he gave in Memphis which is a shame. Among the rest of the cast Amy Lennox as factory worker Lauren charms the audience with a fantastic comic turn as she falls for her boss, while the ensemble are all given noticeable rôles.

There are lots of big messages in Kinky Boots about not bowing to prejudice and accepting people for who they really are which give it a meaningful texture, nicely dressed up in a fabulous world of divas and entrepreneurial flair. The song styles are a good mix and while the plot may totter and stumble at times, it strides home with big full-cast numbers. While it may not entirely sweep you off your feet, there’s plenty of fancy footwork to enjoy. If the enthusiastic audience reaction is anything to go by then Kinky Boots is starting off on the right foot.

Currently booking until 6 February| Photo Matt Crocket

 

  Book: Harvey Fierstein Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper Director: Jerry Mitchell Reviewer: Maryam Philpott   It’s autumn in London, it’s cold, rainy and dark so that can only mean one thing – boots. But imagine if we all swapped our hardwearing, waterproof footwear for something a bit fancier and turned our grey seasonal weather into a glamorous opportunity. Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s new musical Kinky Boots is the latest US musical import hoping to replicate the success of last year’s Memphis. And any show that comes brandishing its Tony-award winning status is bound to raise expectation but has…

Review Overview

The Public Reviews

Stomping

About The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub - London
The Reviews Hub London is under the editorship of John Roberts.The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.