Kinky Boots – Adelphi Theatre, London

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I recently was very stagey and had a two show day (seeing a matinee and evening performance on the same day)…such fun! I saw Kinky Boots during the evening of 20th July 2016.

Back in February 2014 I had my first taste of the Broadway theatre scene in New York and saw the fantastic ‘Kinky Boots’ – and it blew my mind! It was everything a show should be – and more!

This is a musical about shoes and acceptance and is a production that brings with it a feel good factor, but with a serious undertone of accepting people for who they are. Having seen it on Broadway some years previously, I already knew what the show was about, but unfortunately it didn’t meet the same outstanding level as that seen on Broadway.

Kinky Boots was originally a film, and the stage show follows the same story of Charlie Price, who is left to run the shoe factory, Price & Sons after it is left to him following his fathers death. Charlie unexpectedly meets a drag queen, Lola, and so begins their relationship together, in which Charlie designs Lola’s boots. With some added twists and turns along the way – the show focuses on how we look at others, and not always judging a book by its cover.

Everything about Kinky Boots is in your face – the costumes, the bright lights, the tongue in cheek humour, the staging and most of all – the music! Whilst Matt Henry (Lola) plays the part well and brought a different side to Lola that I had previously seen, he didn’t have the power in his voice that is needed for such a big charecter. Her songs are punchy and vibrant ,but at times I struggled to hear Matt, or the sound drowned out his vocals. His dance moves were great and slick but again at times, I felt it lacked the same energy that I had seen on broadway, therefore it was too easy to compare to what I had seen with the performance of Lola by Billy Porter.

Killian Donnelly plays Charlie Price and I have seen him in a number of productions before. He plays a rather plain character when compared with Lola, but it isn’t until Act 2 that Killian really comes into his own and his strong vocals are heard in a very heartfelt song about how he feels about life.

There are also Lola’s Angels (6 drag queens) who help support her throughout the production and each of these brought their own energy to the show as well as their different characters (although they didn’t talk much). However at times the choreography wasn’t in time, therefore this let their performance down a little, as well as some diction issues.

Kinky Boots has a fantastic range of songs, including ‘Land of Lola’, ‘Sex Is In The Heel’ and ‘Everybody Say Yeah’. My two favourite songs being ‘The History of Wrong Guys’, sung by Amy Lennox (Lauren) following her discovery that she has a crush on Charlie. Matt Henry has a very tender but powerful performance of ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ – which felt like a very personal performance from Matt and had the audience in silence.

This is a great show but with the energy taking a bit of time to get going as well as the performances not being of the same quality as seen on Broadway, I struggled to enjoy the performance. That being said, Kinky Boots is a show about acceptance of others and it delivers this very strong message and it is very hard to leave the theatre not singing some of the songs! I’m glad to see that it has a large following both here and on Broadway!

Photo credit: Johan Persson & Matt Crockett

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