Kinky Boots at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton Review

3-14 September 2019

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Kinky Boots

Reviewed by Joanne Hughes

My friend and I were, at the very least, totally excited about seeing the currently touring ‘Kinky Boots’ musical at the delightful Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. I, for one, had loved the 2005 British comedy-drama film, which was written by Geoff Deane and Time Firth, and was keen to see how it transformed onto the stage.

The story tells of a strait-laced man named Charlie Piece who inherits his father’s shoe factory, which is in decline. Struggling to know what to do, Charlie begins the hard task of laying off the company’s employees, many of whom he had grown up with. However, after a chance encounter with a drag queen called Lola, the two men form an unlikely alliance and embark on a new adventure to diversify the business to manufacturing ‘boots for women that are men’, in an attempt to save the business. This heart-warming tale is based on a true story and touches on sensitive subjects such as prejudice, transvestites, acceptance, and father/son relationships, with a dollop of love included.

Kinky Boots is chock-full of energy and enthusiasm from a vivacious cast. The comedy throughout had the audience roaring with laughter, whilst the delicate scenes were handled beautifully. The music and lyrics, written by 80’s pop star Cyndi Lauper, were fabulous – my personal favourite being ‘The Sex is in the Heel’ – which was sung with full gusto.

Kayi Ushe’s performance as the sassy, brassy drag queen Lola was superb. With an impressive singing voice and powerful stage presence, he was the star and focus of the show. Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie fabulously progressed from reluctant heir, unsure of what he wishes to do in life, to confident boot maker, whilst Paula Lane’s portrayal of the ditzy Lauren who falls for Charlie is hilarious, particularly her in her solo song ‘The History of Wrong Men’.

The choreography of the show was imaginative, incorporating moving conveyor belts, boxing match, and Lola’s dancing troupe of Angels, whose ability to walk and dance in heels was commendable. The set design was a masterpiece, transforming from factory floor to public bar to a Milan catwalk with ease; and the costumes were just ‘Wow’ – full of glitz and glamour.

The theme of the show is heart-warming: accept people for who they are and put prejudice aside, a message which was admirably delivered through the frictions between Lola’s male side, Simon, and one of the employees Don (played by Demitri Lampra).

The shows Milan catwalk finale is a wonderful image of glamorous outfits from the Union Jack dress to the sexy red boots, and uplifting song. It ended to a standing ovation from the toe-tapping audience. These boots were definitely made for walking…

Kinky Boots is currently playing at the magnificent Mayflower Theatre, a gem of a theatre, centrally located in Southampton, just around the corner from the main railway station. There are plenty of restaurants and eateries nearby, as well as good parking.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost from £24.50 to £55.50 (booking fees may apply).

Kinky Boots is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 3-14 September 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.

Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811

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