Kinky Boots -7th November 2015

Early November saw me make my first double show day trip to London since my birthday this summer, and unusually for me it was made up of two shows that I hadn’t seen before!

The matinee saw me make a visit to the Adelphi for the first time since The Bodyguard to see Kinky Boots. Now, those of you that know me well know that the Adelphi is tied with Her Majesty’s for my least favourite view in my experience as a disabled theatregoer; I just hate being right at the back of the Stalls as I find it hard to connect emotionally or feel part of the atmosphere, and the Dress Circle overhang at the Adelphi is such that if anything happens high up or far forward and high up, all I see are torsos and legs. That in mind when I initially heard that the Tony Award winning musical was opening on the West End there, I was frustrated and flat out refused to go. I stuck to my guns for a couple months, but after hearing such high praise from my theatregoing friends I eventually bowed to the inevitable and booked myself a ticket.

KB ESY (Matt Crockett)

Everbody Say Yeah (Credit: Matt Crockett)

 

Based on the 2005 film of the same name, Kinky Boots features a score and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, book by Harvey Fierstein, and choreography & direction by Jerry Mitchell. It tells the story of Charlie Price, a son struggling to live up to his father’s legacy after inheriting the family business, a near bankrupt shoe factory. After a confrontation with factory worker Lauren, and a chance encounter with a drag queen named Lola, Charlie is inspired with Lola’s help to create a range of ‘Kinky Boots’, boots that can support a man’s weight and thereby offering a lifeline that might just save the factory! Tied up in the journey though, is the thing I think I love most about the musical: it’s heart and message; according to Charlie and Lola: the secret to success can be summed up in six steps: Pursue the Truth, Learn Something New, Accept Yourself and You’ll Accept Others Too, Let Love Shine, Let Pride Be Your Guide and You Can Change The World When You Change Your Mind!

I have previously seen Killian Donnelly in Billy Elliot and Memphis, and each of those occasions I have been hugely impressed by him. To Charlie, a role that I confess is probably one of my least favourite male characters in musical theatre just in terms of the writing, Killian brings an effortless charm and sense of depth that allowed me to connect with Charlie in a much more complex and meaningful way that I wonder if I would normally do; he made me laugh, cry and pretty much everything in between, and once again his smile lit up the room and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Killian’s Charlie is paired with Matt Henry’s Lola, and even for me as a fan of Matt’s vocals having seen him on The Voice, I had no idea of the extent he would blow my mind. First and foremost, quite simply I think, being a woman that it’s so unfair that a man can look so fabulous in the costumes he has (I love how the Costume Design by Gregg Barnes is fairly neutral and then just explodes with colour whenever Lola is around) but more importantly I think Matt is a phenomenal performer; he bought a tremendous amount of light and shade to Lola that again as with Charlie, allowed me to see past the clichés and slightly over the top humour. I had a particularly rowdy crowd that afternoon, which I don’t think helped on that front; they applauded pretty much every time Lola said something inspiring or remotely amusing, so much so there’d be the punch line and the applause would drown out the next speech. That’s not to say I didn’t find some of the jokes funny or applauded after some moments of dialogue (I did) but as it was my first visit I found myself battling with the urge to go: ‘shhh I want to hear Matt!’ Acting aside, his vocal is insane. Smooth, soulful, and at moments chills up the spine & tears in the eye insane, I’d go so far as to say his rendition of Hold Me In Your Heart is one of the best male vocals I’ve heard this year.

Land of Lola KB (Matt Crockett)

Land of Lola (Credit: Matt Crockett)

 

Lola is joined by her Angels, a ridiculously talented troupe of guys that made me again despair at being a woman who can’t look as good in heels (or indeed whole body!) as they do; within Jerry Mitchell’s sizzling choreography they backflip, split and do things with their legs I can only dream of and thanks to Josh Marquette (Hair Design) and Randy Houston Mercer (Make- Up) look fabulous doing it.   Amy Lennox shone as the lovesick Lauren, and I also must give massive shout outs to Michael Hobbs (George) and Tim Prottey Jones!

As a whole score, for me Kinky Boots is a bit of a tricky one: there are songs that stuck with me over others after I left and those I would listen to regularly if by some fate we get a London Cast Recording  (Everybody Say Yeah, Hold Me In Your Heart and Raise You Up/Just Be), but having said that, in the moment, all the songs work and left me with a smile or moved me, and that I think sums up my feeling towards the show as a whole: it boasts some brilliant performances and tremendous heart, even if I think parts could be better executed. I left feeling a great buzz and uplifted about life, and I’d happily clock in to Price & Son’s for some more fun on the factory floor very soon!

KB Finale (Matt Crockett)

Finale (Credit: Matt Crockett)

 

Kinky Boots is currently booking at the Adelphi until February 6th, 2016

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KinkyBootsUK

Twitter: @KinkyBootsUK

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