Latest Review – Kinky Boots [Opera House, Manchester] [UK Tour]

Callum Francis as Lola with the Angels in Kinky Tour. Photo by Helen Maybanks

KINKY BOOTS

Opera House, Manchester

Until Saturday 1st December 2018


Since it first premiered in Chicago back in 2012, Kinky Boots has gone on to become one of the most successful and acclaimed musicals in recent years. Now, three years after it opened at London’s Adelphi Theatre, the multi award-winning smash-hit musical comes to Manchester as an early stop on its anticipated, first ever UK tour.

With music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, based on the 2005 film of the same name, Kinky Boots is an uplifting and inspirational tale of identity, expectation and acceptance, set around a struggling Northampton shoe factory, and all inspired by true events.

Remaining very faithful to the film, Kinky Boots is the tale of Charlie Price, the fourth-generation son of the failing Price & Son shoe factory, who unexpectedly inherits the family business following his father’s sudden death, despite having no real interest in the industry. With the factory nearing bankruptcy, Charlie is forced to give the long-serving workers their notice, however a chance meeting with the larger-than-life drag queen, Lola, inspires a niche idea that may well secure the factory’s future, despite prejudice and adversity from fellow factory workers.

Having previously starred as Lola in the Australian tour of the show – and soon to take over the role in the hit Broadway production – Callum Francis is the rather unsurprising standout here and drives much of the show with a charismatic and poignant central performance.

Joel Harper-Jackson grows into the role of Charlie and displays strong chemistry with Francis as the two discover they have much more in common with each other than they initially thought. There are also solid supporting turns from Demitri Lampra and Adam Price as Don and George, respectively. However, the show is ultimately carried by Lola and her fearless backup troupe, The Angels, and can often fall flat when they leave the stage.

Fierstein’s book is strong for the most part and achieves an effective blend of sarcasm, wit and pathos (signature Fierstein!), however it is Lauper’s songbook that proves rather problematic. Despite some big, anthemic ensemble numbers – and a couple of moving ballads – the score is largely cluttered with uninspiring fillers that do little to drive the piece and unfortunately feel rather tedious.

Kinky Boots may well be a little overly formulaic in its structure, but overall proves an uplifting and charming, feel-good affair, bursting with colour, humour and warmth, and with a timeless central message that needs to be heard.


Running Time: 2 hours and 30-minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at the Opera House, Manchester: Saturday 1st December 2018.

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.


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