Kinky Boots (4 stars)

Kinky Boots

A different kind of Charlie and Lola bring drag queens to the Kings

Based on a true story, Kinky Boots sashays its way onto the stage with book by Harvey Fierstein and songs by Cyndi Lauper.

The tale of Prices shoe factory in Northampton being turned from beige to scarlet when Charlie Price, the son of a struggling shoe factory owner, chances upon drag queen Lola, is almost the stuff of fairytales – albeit with homophobia, sexism and toxic masculinity at the core.

In essence, Lola (Kayi Ushe) is a fairy godmother who needs decent boots and Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) is an ordinary bloke update of a damsel in distress.

And this gorgeous, glamorous show (David Rockwell's scenic design is dazzling, and Gregg Barnes' costumes a dream) doesn't just teeter on the brink of fabulousness, its marvellous cast bring heart to a story about two lost souls finding salvation in heels and creativity. It's all about self-affirmation, from the ostracised trying to find their place in the world.

A pair of red high heels become a symbol of capitalist greed, but the industrial strength thigh boots created for Lola and her club Angels are all about progress. And Kayi Ushe's song 'Not My Father's Son' is heart-stopping in its unvarnished simplicity, as moving as the rest of the show is entertaining.

Lauper's songs are surprisingly brilliant (except the misjudged 'The History Of Wrong Guys' by Charlie's love interest/co-worker Lauren) and spans genres from Studio 54 homaging disco, to folk, to Latin inflected pop.

More witty than generic jukebox musicals, it's just the right side of kitsch, and it's a hard heart that doesn't find it all rather touching.

Kings Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 18 May, and touring.

Kinky Boots: The Musical

  • 2019
  • UK
  • 2h 15min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jerry Mitchell, Brett Sullivan
  • Cast: Matt Henry, Killian Donnelly, Natalie McQueen

The popular stage musical comes to the silver screen.

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