Living in London, London On Stage
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Kinky Books | Adelphi Theatre | London Strand

I’ve said it time and again but I really do love to the theatre and I really do not go enough. In fact I just love performances of all shapes and sizes. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing better than having something performed for you on stage. So when The Flatmate said that she could get us tickets for Kinky Books through work, I automatically said yes.

Kinky Boots as been on for a while but I’ve never really considered going before. I saw the movie many years ago (it makes me feel old to think that anything could have happened “many” years ago) and loved it but it’s been so long that I can’t really remember why. Still I was looking forward to it.

The Flatmate and I met at Charing Cross just after 6pm – it would have been 6pm on the dot but I was trying to get there on the Northern Line (which, as we all know, is the devil) at rush hour. The show didn’t start until 7.30pm but we thought we could make a night of it and get some dinner first.  We wandered for a little while before stumbling across Honest Burger, not far from our destination – the Adelphi Theatre.

Usually you have to queue for ages to get a table at Honest Burger but this one was conveniently quiet. I ordered a Tribute Burger, which is served alongside Honest’s renowned rosemary chips. I spent ages shovelling down the chips but I seemed to have a refillable plate because they just didn’t go down. I think that’s the first time I have left food on my plate at Honest Burger but we had a show to get to.

We turned up at the theatre at about 7.20pm. I had to stop off at a cash machine on the way to get some cash for my traditional interval ice cream (thankfully there was one basically next to the theatre). I may have been completely stuffed but I’m still a complete child and need my interval ice cream.

We had pretty good seats in the stalls, not too far back from the stage. The seating in the Adelphi could have done with being a bit more staggered, there was a head in my way which I had to keep craning around (I felt sorry for whoever was sitting behind me) but I don’t think I ended up missing anything.

Kinky Boots is inspired by a true story. It tells the tale of a struggling shoe factory in Northampton, Price & Sons. The owner is keen for his son, Charlie Price, to get involved with the family business but he’s more interested in moving to London with his girlfriend. Then Charlie’s dad sadly passes away and he is forced into the driver’s seat.

Charlie soon discovers the factory is in trouble and he needs to find a way to save it and the jobs of all the worker. This solutions comes to Charlie after a chance encounter with a drag queen called Lola, when he realises there is a gap in the shoe market for heels that can withstand a man’s weight. After Charlie doesn’t quite understand the red stiletto boots that Lola is looking for (“Burgundy. Please, God, tell me I have not inspired something burgundy“), Lola becomes a designer for the factory and subsequently has to overcome some of the factory worker’s prejudices, which she does with style. Finally, they make it to Milan where they can present their shoes to the world.

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The soundtrack has been composed by Cyndi Lauper and is comprised of a combination of big, bright and bold dance numbers and a few slower, more intimate songs. I don’t think I have heard any of the songs before but some of them did sound somewhat familiar.

The cast is magnificent but, ultimately, the star of the show is Matt Henry, who plays Lola. Apparently he came second on a series of The Voice on BBC. I haven’t see it but if his performance in Kinky Boots is anything to go by, I have no idea how he didn’t win. He was utterly believable as Lola, the fierce and fabulous drag queen, who is also a trained boxer.

Killian Donnelly also made a very good Charlie Price. His singing voice did sometimes take on an American twang (I don’t know how else to describe it), which sounded a bit out of place in context but he was still very convincing as the character, who starts off quite plain but develops passion and ends with the audience in stitches as he dons the iconic pair of bright red, thigh high boots and awkwardly joining the drag act at the end.

Another highlight of the play was a song by one of the factory workers, Lauren (played by Amy Lennox) who develops an unwanted crush on Charlie. Her hilarious and exaggerated performance was brilliant for two reasons. Number one, I think every girl has felt that way about a crush at some point in their life. And, number two, every girl has sung and danced around her room in the same way when no one is looking.

As much as I loved the story and all the characters, I must admit that, after having first seen Lola perform with her troupe of drag artists, I spent the majority of the play eagerly anticipating their next routine, and then hoping for more after that. They looked incredible as they danced and did backflips, cartwheels and even the splits. All in heels. I have absolutely no idea how they did it but it was totally fabulous. I could not stop grinning and I highly doubt I was the only one. In fact, I know I wasn’t because The Flatmate definitely was too.

The play ended with one last big hurrah, where all the actors sung and danced together. You could kind of tell that some of them were starting to get a bit tired but that did nothing to dent the atmosphere.  The audience gave a standing ovation, with everyone clapping along. Some people were even bobbing along a little – me and The Flatmate included. I don’t remember any performance I’ve been to ending with everyone on their feet, no matter how good. Although I assume everyone probably stand for We Will Rock because that had a similar jubilant atmosphere.

So, “ladies, gentlemen and those who are yet to make up your mind”, you really need to go and see Kinky Boots. If come away not having loved it then, quite frankly, you’ve done something wrong.

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5 Comments

  1. I saw this show in NYC. What blue me away most was the audience. They actually spoke to the actors: “you go girl” and my personal favourite “kick him to the curb”. It was brilliant and thankfully didn’t take away from what a wonderful show it was. Sx

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    • Oh wow, that didn’t happen when I saw it in London but you could still tell everyone in the audience was getting really into it!

      Like

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