Review: Kinky Boots (touring) Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Kinky Boots on a UK and Ireland tour, currently playing at Nottingham Theatre Royal, is quite simply a sensational, sensitive, slick and sublimely sexy show. If you miss this one you will kick yourselves.

Based on a true story Kinky Boots is about fathers and expectations of their sons and sons expectations of their father. It is as much about acceptance and big decisions as it is about ambition and ultimately self knowledge and being true to oneself.

The principle characters are shoe factory inheritor Charlie Price (Joel Harper Jackson) and drag artiste Lola (Kayi Ushe). Both actors work their socks and shoes off in this glitzy production. Ushe is mind blowingly good as the vampish witty lady Lola and lovably vulnerable as his non drag self. Lola’s songs Land of Lola, Sex Is In The Heel, Not My Father’s Son, What This Woman Wants and Hold Me In Your Heart are beautifully done.

Joel Harper Jackson conveys Charlie Price’s compromised life with conviction through some delicate acting when needed and great energy in times of success and strong decision making. We get to hear the real strength and quality in Harper Jackson’s singing voice in the second half song Soul of A Man. We genuinely feel for his plight and also enjoy the other characters’ stories in this large ensemble cast. Cyndi Lauper’s music and lyrics along with book by Broadway legend, Harvey Fierstein give us a first class evening’s entertainment and the heartfelt applause and roar of the standing ovation on press night is huge testament to that.

One of the many highlights of Kinky Boots is the outrageous performers and performances of Lola’s Angels. In this production they are sensationally played by Connor Collins, John J. Dempsey, Damon Gould, Joshua Lovell, Chileshe Mondelle and Toyan Thomas-Browne.

Demitri Lampra is terrific as the bigoted and masculinity deluded shoe factory worker Don who has his own journey of acceptance to follow. Paula Lane bowls us over as besotted factory worker Lauren and shows off her musical comedy skills with the song The History of Wrong Guys. Will she get her true love? Well come and see Kinky Boots and find out. In a smaller but important role Helen Ternent totally convinces as Charlie’s socially ambitious girlfriend Nicola.

The set and costumes (designers David Rockwell and Gregg Barnes) for this touring production of Kinky Boots are West End quality and the show benefits from superb lighting (Kenneth Posner) and pin sharp sound (John Shivers). As flamboyance is Kinky Boots middle name we can’t write this review without a big mention for Josh Marquette’s wonderful hair designs for Lola and her Angels.

There are some big ensemble numbers in this show and the cast genuinely look like they are having the time of their lives and really invest in their individual roles. The show stopping pre-interval number Everybody Say Yeah featuring Charlie, Lola, Angels and Ensemble is terrifically and, possibly even uniquely, choreographed as is the Milan based finale Raise You Up/Just Be.

Musical Supervisor, arranger and orchestrator Stephen Oremus’s excellent experience and Tony award winning work means we can sit back and totally enjoy Patrick Hurley’s musical direction with his brilliantly vibrant live orchestra for Kinky Boots.

Very highly recommended.

Reviewer Phil Lowe with two Angels.

Kinky Boots, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 8th June 2019.

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