Kinky Boots, Opera House Blackpool
Is life brighter six inches off the ground? You can bet your RRREEEDDD boots it is, and Blackpool has been on a high ever since the Kinky Boots tour hit the resort this week. The award-winning show creates a huge buzz of happiness wherever it goes, resulting in reviews packed full of superlatives such as glorious, dazzling, hilarious...and Digital Spy nailing the point as neatly as a newly-made stiletto heel by calling it "a hell of a lot of fun”.

The tour hashtag #raisingyouup captures its spirit well. Kinky Boots, based on real-life events, struts its way out of brogues and into thigh-high red boots, from the grit of a Northampton shoe factory to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price (Joel Harper-Jackson) rescues the family business with the help of a London drag queen, the sensational performer Lola (Kayi Ushe). They find acceptance, of themselves and each other, and this sentimentality catches on - even with he-man Don (brilliantly played by Demitri Lampra), the grumpy but eventually gentle giant who rounds up support to save the day.

Who would have thought an ordinary bloke called Charlie and his down-trodden group of factory workers would team up with Lola and her sparkling entourage of dancing Angels to make a high-fashion range of stiletto boots, in men's sizes. This is the most entertaining example of how teamwork really does make the dream work, and the excellent casting of Kinky Boots is a key factor in bringing the tale to life, with such likeable characters that you’re rooting for them all the way. Every single one stands out as an individual, coming together to form a fantastic ensemble operating an ingenious set. There’s so much going on but it’s executed so sleekly you can only marvel at the cast's expertise and Jerry Mitchell’s sophisticated direction and choreography. Watch out for the conveyor belt scene, one of the best routines I’ve ever seen.

Cyndi Lauper’s music & lyrics were as much of an “adventure and a privilege” to experience as the pop icon has described it was to write them. She has composed a heartwarming blend of 80s rock, pop, soul and power ballads, infused with fun and underlined by that decade’s signature feelgood factor.

Costumes are of course spectacular, and I am still stunned by the Angels’ ability to perform high-energy dance routines so perfectly in high heels.The show is must-see for their scenes alone.

There have been well-earned rave reviews for Kayi Ushe as Lola. Every aspect of his performance is both exceptional and believable, from his incredible vocals throughout (I couldn’t pick a favourite song) to his portrayals of the vulnerable Simon from Clacton and his equally lovable but larger-than-life alter ego Lola. Joel Harper-Jackson pulls off a different kind of challenge, making the ordinary character of Charlie extraordinary, especially when he reveals just how powerful his voice is in Soul of a Man. It’s great to see Paula Lane in a totally different role after playing Kylie Platt’s harrowing final scenes in Coronation Street. She shows a true talent for comedy and musical theatre, highlighted by a belting rendition of The History of Wrong Guys.

There is so much more to say about this fabulous production and its cast and crew but suffice to say it is not to be missed. I can’t imagine anyone leaving without a smile on their face and a firm belief in the Kinky Boots mantra: #youchangetheworldwhenyouchangeyourmind

On until Sat 12 Oct 2019. Book tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/venueartist/254002/5268628

Read more about the real-life events that inspired the story here: https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/stories/the-real-roots-of-kinky-boots

Further tour dates here: http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/tour-dates-venues.php


Kinky Boots UK is produced by Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig and Playful Productions, in association with Cameron Mackintosh.