Ladies, Gentlemen and those who are yet to make up their minds as Kinky Boots struts into Milton Keynes Theatre this week - be prepared for very high heels and sparkly costumes in abundance. You may think this is a story about drag queens. You may think this is a story about a shoe factory. Well yes, it’s both but actually it’s a story of acceptance and being the person you were meant to be, at its heart.
Charlie Price has a huge pressure on his shoulders. His father’s just passed away, he feels responsible for the failing family business, Price & Son, a shoe manufacturer in Northampton. And to top it all, his fiancée, Nicola, wants to live in London, miles away from what they grew up with. They move to London and while there, he saves a woman from being attacked, not realising she is a drag queen. Recovering in Lola’s dressing room she shows him the problems with her boots. It is only when Charlie is back in Northampton that he has the idea to start to manufacturer Kinky Boots. With Lola on board as a designer, what can possibly go wrong?
Drag is in vogue at the moment with Ru Paul’s drag race and Drag SOS programmes on national TV, however this show is a million times better than anything you have seen before. Its quality. Its showy. Its stunning. Lola and her angels steal every scene they are in. I found myself wanting every outfit the angels wear. And of course, the boots. A girl loves her boots!
West End star Kayi Ushe wears the boots with panache as Lola. He is everything you want in a queen; Loud, brave, flamboyant and underneath it all a bit vulnerable. Kayi is perfect as Lola and I just loved him. I wanted to get on stage with him and dance and sing along. Is it wrong that I loved him more in a dress than trousers? Kayi’s performance of Hold Me In Your Heart when she is singing in the local care home is so stunning it’s on par with a Diana Ross performance.
Joel Harper-Jackson plays Charlie Price. Joel is an amazing actor, and his emotions are on display as he wears his heart on his sleeve. Joel is also a wonderful singer and those emotions come through in the songs too. Poor Charlie has a lot going on and Joel is sensitive to this. The audience take him to their hearts. Lauren is played by Paula Lane and her performance reminded me of Bubbles (Jane Horricks) from Ab Fab. I was personally not keen on the silliness especially during the number, The History Of Wrong Guys. However, Lauren does this well and it certainly shows her character is different from Nicola. The Northampton accent is certainly questionable in most of the cast, but I can appreciate that most places in the UK wouldn’t know this either but as Milton Keynes is just down the road from Northampton, it needs to be said that Northampton doesn’t have a northern accent.
This is a spectacular show. It has everything. It’s the modern version of Rocky Horror in places. It even offers a really great explanation of the difference between drag and trans (in case you didn’t know). With songs by Grammy® and Tony® winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this takes her talents to a whole new level. Huge respect for such wonderful numbers.
So, strap on your best heels and sparkly outfits and go to see this fabulous show. And I am not only speaking to the women here, after all Sex is in the heel!
Kinky Boots is at Milton Keynes theatre until 9 November 2019.