Theatre

Review: Kinky Boots glitters at the Adelphi Theatre

If you’ve seen the 2005 film of the same name, you’d be forgiven for thinking you know what to expect with the Adelphi’s adaptation of Kinky Boots.

In many ways, you won’t be disappointed: narratively and thematically, this ballsy musical is fiercely loyal to its cinematic counterpart – a comedy-drama about a shoe factory’s strait-laced heir-apparent, Charlie, who forms an unlikely friendship with drag queen Lola in order to save his family’s business. However, it’s Harvey Fierstein’s energetic script and Cyndi Lauper’s brave score that really define this show.

Along with a plethora of zingy one-liners and powerful pop moments, the show is also anchored by a bevy of knockout performances. The West End’s current golden boy, Killian Donnelly, is sparkling as Charlie, while Matt Henry makes a welcomed returned to the stage as the captivating Lola.

Both men are truly mesmeric here: for the former, the highlights come in two stages, notably with both of Charlie’s solo numbers – the anthemic act one barnstormer Step One and the act two soul-searcher Soul of a Man – which both allow Donnelly to demonstrate his incomparable vocals with aplomb. For Henry, Lola captivates the audience from the minute we meet her (and, of course, her ‘Angels’), right through to her emotional swansong, Hold Me In Your Heart.

Beyond the leads, and along with a bounty of standout moments from a talented ensemble, Amy Lennox almost steals the show as Charlie’s love interest, Lauren. Her solo effort in The History of Wrong Guys is a masterclass in comedic timing, and her stage presence throughout – no mean feat against the likes of Donnelly and Henry (especially when he’s wearing 6-inch heels) – marks her as a real one to watch.

Elsewhere, there’s some effort give added depth of characters to Lola and Charlie’s stories, notably by exploring the relationships with their estranged fathers. This works most beautifully during the Not My Father’s Son duet and flashback sequences that feature a young Charlie and Lola (or Simon) and their respective dads. Yet still, Kinky Boots works best when it’s being catty, irreverent and cheeky – all traits personified by Lola’s magnetism.

At its heart, Kinky Boots is a story about acceptance, understanding and being true to who you are, and Lauper certainly makes good on capturing the essence of the show throughout its musical numbers. This culminates in the crowd-pleasing, heel-boasting finale Just Be, which certainly has that feel-good factor in spades.

The show is further bolstered by its technical credentials: David Rockwell’s magnificent set, which seamlessly segues between factory scenes with ease is a wondrous thing to behold; while Gregg Barnes’ tremendous costumes bring real colour and vibrancy to the show – especially where Lola and the Angels (which include X-Factor favourite Marcus Collins, don’t you know?) are concerned. The icing on the cake though is Jerry Mitchell’s sumptuous direction and choreography. There’s some gorgeous set pieces to marvel at here, including a conveyor belt routine, a delicious slow-mo boxing match and a Milan fashion walk like no other you’ll see… ever! Make sure you don’t miss it!

Kinky Boots is showing at the Adelphi Theatre until February 2016, book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk.

Share post