Kinky Boots review @ the Alhambra, Bradford

If you ever find yourself pondering over which fantastic musical to go and see, go and see Kinky Boots. 

It’s an absolute blast of a show, with every component you could possibly need to make it a success. Great book by Harvey Fierstein, bopping music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, dazzling costumes designed by Gregg Barnes and a showstopping cast to do it all justice.

When Charlie Price’s dad passes away, it looks like the family business is about to shut down. Until Charlie finds a niche in the market – making sturdy, sexy boots for drag queens. With the help of the fiesty Lola, can he turn things around?

The cast remains pretty much unchanged since the last time I saw the tour, apart from Alfie Parker stepping in as Don (who adds a softer dimension to the character). Yet somehow this performance seems a little more rushed. The band seem to be playing just a few beats too fast, and some of the longer monologues are gabbled as if they’re up against the clock. The biggest culprit is Joel Harper-Jackson who clearly has an impressive acting and vocal ability but sometimes throws his more sincere moments away by rushing.

As is always the way with long tours, some of the more subtle humour gets gradually amplified and amplified before it eventually just becomes silly. Paula Lane as Lauren struggles to hold a tune and makes up for this by just making her entire character a joke. It’s not fitting with the raw believability of some of the moments in the production, and I’m surprised director Jerry Mitchell hasn’t tried to take the character down a different route. Mitchell also choreographs the piece, which is fierce and sassy and inventive. The Angels are to thank for such a glorious stage spectacle – they’re truly fabulous!

Of course, the real star of the show is Kayi Ushe as Lola. He manages to define a beautiful character filled with sass and insecurities, effortlessly transitioning between the fierce drag queen and Simon, the man behind the mask so to speak. Not only is Kayi Ushe a stunning singer and overall stage performer, he is a force of utter likability so the whole audience can’t help but watch him.

The show will leave you smiling and with a refreshed outlook on the world, offering a two-hour haven of acceptance, love and self-belief. What more could anyone want?

Catch Kinky Boots at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, until 26th October 2019.

 

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