Kinky Boots – Review – Bradford Alhambra

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Kinky Boots – Review

Bradford Alhambra, October 2019

by Sandra Callard

Northampton is an ordinary but pleasant town in the East Midlands, and has been known as a major centre for the shoe industry for centuries. When the musical Kinky Boots arrives in town Northampton takes on a persona of glamour which adds another dimension to its staid and hardworking reputation.

Charlie Price, the hesitant and traditional shoemaker owner of Price’s shoe factory in Northampton, has a failing business on his hands and has no idea how to remedy the situation. Joel Harper-Jackson brings Charlie to sympathetic life as he dithers over the situation, yet baulks at his girlfriend’s ambitions to close up shop and move to London to become property developers. Helen Ternent plays the polished and pushy Nicola who watches Charlie’s factory move to the brink of closure with a calm equanimity.

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But help is at hand in the form of the glorious array of female impersonators, Lola and the Angels, who come to town and transfix Charlie and the factory workers and give him the mad, bad and dangerous idea of manufacturing the glamorous boots the drag company desires. The company is led by the beautiful, forceful and intoxicating Lola who, as a man, is everything that Charlie is not and becomes his mentor to save his factory.

Lola is played by Kayi Ushe, and he totally dominates the stage. He is big, loud, sexy and hilariously funny, and he can walk about the stage in six-inch heels with an ease that would send most women tottering towards a broken ankle. He persuades Charlie to give it a go and manufacture the most outlandish, glittering and gorgeous long boots in the world, and Charlie and his loyal workers give it their all.

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“Numerous great performances”

Kayi Ushe is phenomenal in the role of Lola and is stunning both as Lola and his own male identity. His musical numbers cover everything from the overt and raunchy ‘Sex Is In The Heel’ to the moving duet with Charlie, ‘Not My Father’s Son’. He owns the stage and is the consummate professional as he leads the cast to their own success.

There are numerous great performances from the supporting cast. Alfie Parker as Don and Lizzie Bea as Pat are both terrific, and Adam Price as George is a revelation. It may also be true to say that the real stars of the show are the fantastic boots which are paraded at the end by Lola and the Angels, not only because of their dazzling appearance, but also because of the amazing ability of the drag queens to walk in them.

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Kinky Boots is a show that needs no intellectual effort on the part of the audience. To simply immerse oneself in the spectacle is all that is needed. The music is, on the whole, loud and not particularly memorable. You will not leave the theatre humming a tune, nor remember any of the words the morning after. It is enough to say that the fifteen or so musical numbers hit you with colour, noise and energy, with each number being totally appropriate to the action of the moment.

This show is, quite simply, good fun and pure escapism. So just accept and enjoy and I guarantee you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face.

images: Helen Maybanks

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