Review: Kinky Boots at the Wolverhampton Grand | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Kinky Boots at the Wolverhampton Grand

Culture Editor Olivia Boyce reviews the 'brilliantly fun and uplifting' Kinky Boots, as the tour makes its way into the Wolverhampton Grand

Some musicals are just blooming marvellous, and Kinky Boots is one of them. The Olivier and Tony Award-winning musical has recently announced its approaching closure in the West End, having received acclaim since its 2015 opening, but it has found new audiences with a touring production that now arrives in six-inch-knee-high-heeled style at the Wolverhampton Grand, proving itself to be a feel-good hit from start to finish.

Price and Son shoemakers, a Northampton business with over 100 years of history, is on the brink of closing. Charlie Price, though not at all keen to take over the family business, finds himself suddenly trying to save it, hitting obstacle after obstacle as big orders disappear leaving them with an uncertain future. Enter Lola, a drag queen in need of some sturdy shoes who lends Charlie her creative talents to help create some ‘Kinky Boots’, teaching Charlie and his staff some much-needed lessons in acceptance, tolerance and self-belief, transcending stereotypes and prejudice along the way.

'Kayi Ushe steals every scene from the moment Lola takes the stage...'

Kayi Ushe steals every scene from the moment Lola takes the stage. As Lola, Ushe is sensual, commanding and witty, and has the ability to dance and sing up a storm. He is touching in the show’s more emotional moments, such as in the beautiful anthemic ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’, bringing a compassion and vulnerability mixed with a determination that lands Lola firmly in the hearts of her audience. Ushe is also supported by the ‘Angels’, who are astonishing both vocally and physically as they dance acrobatically on towering heels, a testament to Jerry Mitchell’s inspired choreography.

Joel Harper-Jackson is a compelling Charlie, capturing his indecision as he battles to save the factory he sees as his father’s legacy. Harper- Jackson has a particularly brilliant moment in Act 1, dueting with Ushe’s Lola in ‘Not My Father’s Son’, surely one of the best musical theatre songs to emerge in the last decade or two, and he demonstrates his powerful voice as he belts out ‘Soul of A Man’ towards the close of act 2.

Helen Ternent provides a voice of reason if not compassion as Nicola, Charlie’s girlfriend who longs for the opportunities of London. Ternent has a fab voice, especially when she sings of the shoes she wants in ‘The Most Beautiful Thing In The World’, and is sympathetic as she finds her plans in jeopardy. Paula Lane is a comic scene-stealer as Lauren, the factory worker who sings one of the show’s most brilliant songs, ‘The History of Wrong Guys’. Her delivery of perhaps one of the best lines in the show, ‘He has a girlfriend, you knob!’, is hysterically funny, and you can’t help but root for her as she realises her crush. The ensemble are also fabulous, with each comically brilliant and vocally excellent, and displaying some impressive skills in heels!

'Kinky Boots is a celebration of life and the overcoming of prejudices, a brilliantly fun and uplifting evening from beginning to end, and without a doubt one of the best musicals of this century...'

Cyndi Lauper’s rather catchy music and lyrics are performed vibrantly by the excellent orchestra, and it proves to be a musically memorable evening. Amazing too is the technical marvel which is David Rockwell’s set and scenic design, particularly some conveyor belts which, when used in the act one closer, provide a moment of true theatre magic. This production sacrifices nothing of the quality of the London production, and it shows, with the audience gasping at some of the set reveals.

Perhaps the greatest of Kinky Boots’ many strengths is summed up best by the closing lyrics of the show – ‘Just be  | Who you wanna be | Never let them tell you who you oughta be (…) Celebrate your life triumphantly’. Kinky Boots is a celebration of life and the overcoming of prejudices, a brilliantly fun and uplifting evening from beginning to end, and without a doubt one of the best musicals of this century. Get yourself down to the Price and Son factory for a ‘Kinky revolution’ you’ll never forget – just don’t forget your heels!

More information on the Kinky Boots Tour can be found here.

Recent graduate BA English, current MA Literature and Culture student. Print Editor for Redbrick Culture. Appreciator of all things literary or stagey. Often found singing musical theatre tunes when I think no-one is watching. (@liv_boyce)



Published

19th October 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

18th October 2018 at 5:57 pm



Images from

Helen Maybanks



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