The Ladyboys of Bangkok – Review – Wakefield Theatre Royal

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By @Steve Crabtree, June 2017

The Ladyboys Of Bangkok cabaret show comes with glowing reviews from pretty much anyone and everyone who’s seen it: “The party like no other party with girls like no other girls – a night like no other night!” they tell us as we arrive at the Theatre Royal, Wakefield for the latest production – Who Runs The World!

We’re about to watch 16 of Thailand’s most alluring Lady Boys, and a grumpy dwarf from Oldham get up to sing, dance and make us laugh. A glance around the place, I notice it’s a predominantly female audience, many of whom are giddy, with a glass of wine in hand. And there are some men. Open-minded enough to come to see the show, but with a body language that perhaps says that they’re not entirely in their comfort zone!

So, Who Runs the World is a camp and lively mix of tributes and cabaret night. The compere introduces the show and eight elegant, glitzy and glamorous lady boys treat us to ‘One Night Only’ as their opening number. Within 30 seconds one guy says to his friend: “I’ve already forgotten they’re not women!” And the, before you know it, we’re treated to ‘Shout Out To My Ex’, as the Little Mix act come on to the stage and lift the audience. We’re setting the tone for the night – lively, big numbers, a sprinkling of disco, the bright lights… and people are already up on their feet dancing.

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“All smiles”

Then enter the grumpy dwarf. He adds comedic value to the show with a bit of butt-slapping, and a rendition of a seaside tune that has words that I can’t repeat on a family site. The crowd are in stitches though. By this point everyone is smiling, laughing and at least toe-tapping their way through the acts. Including the men!

We get a Rhianna melody, then Boy George brings out ‘Karma Chameleon’; before a male member of the audience is brought on to the stage. He’s promptly blindfolded, strapped in to a chair and has no escape. The stage changes to the ‘Paradise Lapdancing’ club. The not-knowing-what’s-happening look that keeps appearing on the guy’s face just adds to humour as our lap dancer appears, and harmlessly runs their hands over his chest, his leg… and it’s at this point he manages to raise his hands slightly to signal “Woah there!”.

He’s all smiles as the blindfold is removed, and it’s on with the show.

Even the most sceptical of people are loosened up by now, with eyes and smiles as bright as the disco lights. They are immersed in what is proving to be a fantastic, upbeat, feel-good cabaret show.

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“Amazing dance moves”

The lady boys are on fire, and it’s important to note that they’re not just men in women’s clothing – this isn’t drag. These people are unbelievable performers, and they have amazing dance moves. They are talented. And if you didn’t know otherwise, you’d think these were real women up on stage.

After the interval, we move away from the cabaret stuff slightly, and are treated to a sea of colour as the Ladyboys perform a number from the The Lion King musical, before ‘Shakira’ joins them on stage – and his hips aren’t lying.

In a second nudge to the musicals, we see a Full Monty performance with the boys dressed as boys, and the grumpy dwarf joining in to leave his hat on.

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“Finely choreographed”

By the end of the show, which incidentally flies by, we’ve seen Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and the Bay City Rollers… the atmosphere in the theatre is lively, and the audience is singing along to every act. And that’s testament to just what a finely choreographed and performed musical production this is.

Oh. And hands up. The guy who’d forgotten he was watching men within the opening seconds of the show? Well, that was me. And I can guarantee I wasn’t the only one in the crowd who’d done that.

If disco, musicals, glitz, glamour and fun are your thing, this show is a must-see.


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