Home » London Theatre Reviews » Kinky Boots – The Musical In Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Kinky Boots – The Musical In Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Shoes, one would have thought, are fairly recession-proof. The problem for Charlie Price (Joel Harper-Jackson, reprising the role he previously played in a UK touring production) is that his family’s shoemaking business has been undercut by cheaper imports. The quality may be inferior (or not), but as his friend Harry (Ahmed Hamad) points out, consumer demand these days is for cheap shoes that last a season rather than an expensive pair that lasts what Price & Son call ‘a lifetime’. But, as the show’s title suggests, the way forward is to create boots with sex appeal. It seems absurd, really, but then far more fantastical things happen in musical theatre: take, for instance, the resident show at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Frozen – in which an entire kingdom finds itself trapped in an eternal winter which is only resolved by ‘an act of true love’.

Cedric Neal (Lola_Simon) and Joel Harper-Jackson (Charlie) - Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert - Photo Credit Mark Senior
Cedric Neal (Lola_Simon) and Joel Harper-Jackson (Charlie) – Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert – Photo Credit Mark Senior.

There’s love here, too, in various forms. Charlie’s commitment to the factory, inspired by a chance encounter with Lola (a charismatic Cedric Neal) is ultimately greater than his commitment to his girlfriend Nicola (Daisy Wood-Davis). The show suggests – no, loudly proclaims – that one need not necessarily uproot from where they grew up to make a success of their lives. There’s the camaraderie between work colleagues, and a challenge to Don (Sean Needham), the closest thing the show has to an antagonist, to “accept someone for who they are”.

Cyndi Lauper’s music for the show was designed to have a pop/chart music sound to it. It’s noticeable, for instance, how Harper-Jackson speaks with a British accent but sings with an American one. Kinky Boots is, therefore, a curious choice of musical for the London Musical Theatre Orchestra to take on – and indeed, the orchestra was smaller than usual for an LMTO show, with musical director Freddie Tapner conducting eleven musicians. Commendably there was a twenty-four-strong chorus, which suitably beefed up the large ensemble numbers.

Courtney Bowman’s Lauren brought the house down in ‘The History of Wrong Guys’, with extraordinary stage presence and exquisite comic timing. There was, justifiably, sustained applause too for Harper-Jackson at the end of ‘The Soul of a Man’, and for Neal’s rendering of ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’. That said, there are things one misses in a concert version – Lola’s Angels (in the order listed in the programme’s cast list, Ashley Samuels, Eli Caldwell, Finton Flynn, Jayred Lempriere, Jordan Bennett and Ross Carpenter) weren’t, to the best of my recollection, introduced individually, and I wonder how well the narrative would be understood by someone in the audience who hadn’t seen the full production previously.

The sound design (Tom Marshall) is nothing short of remarkable: the lyrics could be heard with more clarity here than I recall them during the original West End run at the Adelphi Theatre, which in a show whose musical numbers drive forward the narrative helps tremendously, especially here, where the staging and props are fairly minimal. Omar F. Okai’s direction deserves some credit, too, as the performances strike a healthy balance between possessing a crowd-pleasing wow factor and not overdoing it or being too hammy.

Okay, so it starts to get just a little preachy at the end when it rams home its gospel of acceptance and an invitation to “just be who you want to be”, whatever that actually means. In the end, though, the feelgood factor is palpable in a show that celebrates you, whoever you are. A vibrant and energetic production.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Returning to the West End for the first time since 2019, Kinky Boots is the exhilarating true story about a struggling shoe factory that will lift you higher than any platform boots!

Winner of six TONY awards and the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2016, Kinky Boots features a joyous score by Cyndi Lauper and a hilarious, uplifting book by Harvey Fierstein.

Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of the fabulous entertainer Lola, and together they work out what is best for both of them.

KINKY BOOTS – THE MUSICAL IN CONCERT
Mon 8th and Tue 9 August 2022

Related News & Reviews Past & Present

  1. Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
    Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert will be stepping out and painting the town red for an extra night on Tuesday 9 August…
  2. Kinky Boots Broadway’s Billy Porter and Stark Sands with London cast
    Original Kinky Boots Broadway Lola and Charlie, Billy Porter and Stark Sands, with the production’s London cast at the Adelphi Theatre. The pair…
  3. Cast announced for Kinky Boots The Musical London
    The cast for Kinky Boots The Musical in London’s West End has been announced with Killian Donnelly and Matt Henry portraying the central characters…
  4. Fashion and shoe designer Jimmy Choo attends Kinky Boots
    Fashion and shoe designer Jimmy Choo attended a performance of Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre, for which he then posed for pictures…
  5. Kinky Boots The Musical at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
    The actor-musicianship on stage is the usual way in which Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, at least in recent years, likes to deliver musicals –…

Author

1 thought on “Kinky Boots – The Musical In Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane”

  1. Absolutely Fantastic!!! wish I could watch it over and over again, just Amazing. So much talent on one stage. It’s a show that never leaves your conversations. It’s got something for everyone. It’s so Funny, it’s sad, it’s up lifting, excepting, honest and so much more,
    The theatre staff were wonderful to, I couldn’t of asked for better. Thank you for such an incredible evening. Please put this show on again. Standing ovations through out. Simply wonderful.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top