West End Show About Shoes Is Bootiful

Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre ★★★★☆

By Londonist Last edited 37 months ago
West End Show About Shoes Is Bootiful Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre 4
Photo by Matt Crockett

It's hard to think of a better way to lift any dreary autumnal spirits than with this uproariously fun new musical. Based on the 2005 film about a struggling shoe manufacturer who attempts to turn his ailing business around by making thigh-high boots for drag queens, it is a disco-fuelled riot of colour and cross-dressing exuberance that could win over even the most thuggish homophobe.

Though the film and its story were British, the stage musical was born stateside. Cyndi Lauper has written all of the songs and lyrics, and the show arrives on our shores as the toast of Broadway, with six Tony Awards under its sparkly belt. Expectations are therefore high.

Thankfully, Jerry Mitchell's production lives up to the hype. It isn't perfect, but it's a guaranteed good time. The cast are a delight to watch, and perform the key numbers with such verve and, dare we say, spunk that the audience end up whooping and clapping along throughout. To be honest, the cast make the whole thing look so much fun that you half wish you were up there with them.

At the heart of the story is an unlikely friendship between the straight-laced young shoemaker, Charlie (Killian Donnelly), and the drag queen who inspires his business brainwave and signs on as his designer, Lola (The Voice's Matt Henry). The two leads work well together, conveying a tender friendship between two troubled young men. But it's Henry who's blessed with the juiciest role, rising to the occasion with diva-ish aplomb. Also worthy of a mention is the hilarious Amy Lennox as a sprightly young factory worker with the hots for Charlie.

Unfortunately, the production also has its problems. Lauper has written some fantastic disco tunes for the drag queen sequences, but elsewhere her rockier numbers edge far too close to musical theatre landfill. The opening of the show is also disappointingly limp, and the entire piece is generally quite predictable and prone to cliché.

Frankly though, you don't end up caring. Most of the show is so well staged and performed with such joy by the cast, it's near impossible not to be carried along by the sheer ebullience of it all. Kinky or not, everyone should be dragged to see it.

Kinky Boots is on at the Adelphi Theatre, 409-412 Strand, WC2R 0NS, until . Tickets £25-£95. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

By Dan Frost

Last Updated 18 September 2015