Kinky Boots – Fun, fabulous and sassy fantastic!!

What do you get when you combine the song writing talents of Cyndi Lauper, a gang of fantastic drag queens in fabulous footwear and a story full of pride, acceptance and love? Well, in the case of this musical, these elements combined make for a West End hit.

After opening on Broadway in April 2013, this musical (based of the 2005 film of the same name) opened at the Adelphi Theatre in September last year and has proven a smash hit ever since. Based on true events, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, a young man from Northampton who inherits his family’s shoe factory. When Charlie discovers that there isn’t really a market for traditional men’s shoes anymore and the factory is running itself into the ground, he finds himself searching for a solution in order to save his family name and his factory workers jobs. The solution comes from in unlikely source, Lola, a pride filled passionate drag queen searching for suitable footwear.

At the performances I have seen (yes, that’s plural. I’ve seen this amazing show three times now), the role of Charlie Price was played by Killian Donnelly. This is the second role I have seen him in. Last summer, I saw him play the role of Huey Calhoun in Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre and was very much looking forward to seeing him take on this new, very different role. Charlie is a character who develops and grows throughout the show, starting as a shy man who isn’t completely sure about who he is meant to be or what he is meant to be doing with his life to a confident person full of passion for his business and the people around him, not to give the complete story away here.

Donnelly has an amazing ability to make every character he plays lovable, even when they make bad choices, and believe me Charlie has his moments (much alike Huey did). And, of course, I have to mention Killian’s powerhouse vocals. ‘Soul of a man’ raised the roof every time I saw the show. To quote Michael Ball when Killian performed on his radio show ‘Bloomin heck, you do that 8 times a week!’. I believe that Donnelly has one of the best and biggest voices I have heard in the West End.

Now, having seen the show three times, I have been lucky enough to see two different performers on in the role of Lola. The first time I sure the show back in November, the understudy Callum Francis was on for this amazing role. He was able to balance the fire and passion of the character with Lola’s heartfelt backstory whilst remaining full of boundless energy throughout the show.

For both times I saw the show in June, Matt Henry was on for his leading role. The amount of passion and soul Matt brings to the role is incredible. Whilst being full of energy for the upbeat numbers such as ‘Land of Lola’ and ‘The Sex is in the heel’, he brings so much soul and heart to the ballads that you really feel for his character. ‘Not my father’s son’ will pull at your heartstrings and bring Lola’s (and Charlie’s) backstory into perspective, the stress of having to live up to expectations of others whilst trying to find what it is that you want to do for yourself. ‘Hold me in your heart’ was also a spectacular roof raising solo for both performers.

Another important character is Lauren, played on all occasions I saw by Amy Lennox. Lauren is a character full of spunk and fire, whose argument against Charlie giving her notice for a job sparks him to go searching for a solution. Whilst being full of energy and sass, Lennox is able to also show Lauren’s softer side through her interactions with Charlie and Lola. And if you want to laugh, Lauren has some great one liners not to mention her solo ‘history of the wrong guys’. This is a powerhouse solo which will make you laugh out loud whilst ringing true with a number of women in the audience I’m sure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a song get so many mid-song applause then this one.

And now, about those fantastic drag queens and their fabulous footwear. Known as the ‘Angels’, you have never seen anything like these amazing ‘ladies’ with their dancing, high kicking and back flipping all whilst wearing high heels. These brilliant performers bring the fun and glamour to numbers such as ‘Everybody say yeah’ and ‘in this comer’. And believe me, if you never thought you would be jealous of a man’s legs, just wait until you see these Angels. Legs for days!

I have to say that Kinky Boots has one of my favourite casts. From main characters down to the ensemble and swings, they are all incredible. They all come to the stage with such energy that you just wish that you were up there dancing with them. Also, if you ever go round to the stage door after a show, they are some of the nicest people you can meet. They are always happy to sign programmes, take photos and talk. I must say that with the cast change coming in August, I am going to miss this current cast so so much although I’m sure the new cast are going to do a great job too.

I do have to give a nod to the costume designers and the choreographer. The amazing dancing (mostly done in high heels) will get you dancing in your seat and the costumes are spectacular sparkling and perfect. With costumes ranging from Charlie’s basic work clothes (very different from Huey’s animal print) to Lola’s sequin covered finale dress, it’s all perfect. Every ensemble character’s costumes are so unique and add to every individual character. The finale ‘Raise you up/just be’ puts choreography and costuming together in a all dancing hurrah to being who you want to be and being proud of who you are that will have you beaming and dancing all the way home.

In conclusion, Kinky Boots will have you cheering, smiling from ear to ear, laughing and even crying. In my opinion, it really is the most fun, full throttle and all together amazing show the West End currently has on offer. It’s no surprise that this show has been the winner of every best musical award. All I can suggest is that you get your boots on and get yourself down to the Adelphi theatre to see the fabulous Kinky Boots, booking until January 14th 2017.

And remember, just be and sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out!!

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