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Kinky Boots – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Book: Harvey Fierstein

Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper

Director: Jerry Mitchell

Reviewer: Nicole Craft

Starting life as a motion picture back in 2005, Kinky Boots tells the tale of the rebirth of a Northampton shoe company which saves itself from the brink of collapse by creating a range of shoes for drag queens. With the stage musical having won many awards during its time in the West End, Kinky Boots is now spreading its glitz and glamour around on a UK tour; tonight’s performance being on its second stop – the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

Whether or not you come into Kinky Boots with previous knowledge of the film, the show doesn’t disappoint on a theatrical level – it’s grand, it’s glamorous, it’s funny, the casting is perfect and the vocal ranges astound. However, particularly given the show’s status and previous accolades, it doesn’t quite live up to expectations and is let down throughout by its book and some very unmemorable musical numbers.

With music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, you can hear the 80s screaming out in the songs, which is often executed in an enjoyably silly, mocking manner raising lots of laughter (Paula Lane’s rendition of The History of Wrong Guys a particularly fine example). These moments are unfortunately overshadowed at times by corny cliché numbers that seem to have been placed because ‘that’s what a musical must have’ and either feel pointless and predictable and leave the mind wandering elsewhere, or start well, but then drag on too long to be making any difference to the narrative.

The cast is very much the saviour of this production and ensures that its downfalls are forgiven – even succeeding in making a show-pausing technical fault in the first act almost completely forgettable. Joel Harper-Jackson’s Charlie, despite not having the strongest vocals, makes us sympathise with his character and leaves us rooting for his success. Demitri Lampra captures the perfect lardy-bigot stereotype superbly as Don. Adam Price’s George is, put simply, hilarious and Paula Lane, as the quirky innocent factory-girl-with-a-crush-on-the-boss, Lauren, cannot be faulted.

Naturally stealing the show are Lola and her Angels. Kayi Ushe steps in as standby for Lola in this performance and the only possible thing we could ask him to improve on is to ooze a bit more confidence in his dance moves. He owns the stage whenever he is present, his mannerisms continuously raise belly-laughs, his vocals raise the roof and his execution of the sassy drag-queen is just perfect. The Angels, quite frankly, make the show. Collectively complimenting Ushe perfectly, they’re stylishly poised, ooze confidence and sex appeal, demonstrate dance moves in heels that shouldn’t even be possible and their vocal ranges are outstanding – a total pleasure to witness.

Overall, you can’t be disappointed in Kinky Boots. It’s a real feel-good production with a lot of positives that makes you laugh and leaves you smiling as the curtain falls. There are a few too many parts that let such a large-scale production down for it to be completely satisfying, but despite this, it’s still well worth donning your best heels and immersing yourself in the Land of Lola.

Runs Until 27 October 2018  | Image: Helen Maybanks

Book: Harvey Fierstein Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper Director: Jerry Mitchell Reviewer: Nicole Craft Starting life as a motion picture back in 2005, Kinky Boots tells the tale of the rebirth of a Northampton shoe company which saves itself from the brink of collapse by creating a range of shoes for drag queens. With the stage musical having won many awards during its time in the West End, Kinky Boots is now spreading its glitz and glamour around on a UK tour; tonight’s performance being on its second stop - the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. Whether or not you come into Kinky…

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The Reviews Hub Score

Glamourous

About The Reviews Hub - Central

The Reviews Hub - Central
The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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