The Kinky Boots the Musical, Official UK & UK Tour Website title treatment

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Kinky Boots Music by Cyndi Lauper |  Book by Harvey Fierstein | Directed by Jerry Mitchell
4 Stars

These dancing boots are such a hoot!

We are told, early on in Kinky Boots, that you are never more than ten paces from a transvestite. As someone who takes the Tube a lot, I think I knew that. Yet, in Kinky Boots, a new musical based on the 2005 British film, it feels as if we are never more than an inch from an entire posse of them.

"You see them all the time," explains Lola, the perfect drag queen name, lash fabulous and wig-tastic and played with marvellous style by Matt Henry. This may be true but we don’t see them like THIS. Again, Lola provides the answer. "A drag queen puts on a dress and becomes Cleopatra. A transvestite puts on a dress and more likely than not looks like Winston Churchill in his knickers!"

What an absolute hoot of a show this is. The music and (clever) lyrics by Cyndi Lauper have an overall Boys Just Want to Have Fun theme. The script, by Harvey Fierstein, who is a sort of Broadway hit factory really, doesn’t rely on swearing for laughs and has a very big heart. With Kinky Boots, these two have achieved something remarkable: a musical about drag queens and shoes and the Midlands that is total box office family entertainment.

It has been a mega-hit on Broadway and I’m just astonished that it started there. The whole thing is just so very British. Men dressing up as women. Shoe factories closing. Northampton (sorry, someone had to say it). Jokes about poofs and fags. There is a trannie Beefeater, a Union Jack hip-wiggler, the lantern-jawed man prancing in a two-piece swimsuit of naughty postcard fame.

The stand-out performance is by Matt Henry, who was a finalist in the BBC’s The Voice UK, who struts his stuff particularly well in the best song, Sex is in the Heel. There is a star-is-born moment when Amy Lennox who, as Lauren, performs The History of Wrong Guys, about what happens when you get a crush on the wrong person, with knock-out perfection.

Yet the show itself is the real star. Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell doesn’t let them put a stilettoed foot wrong. The set (shoe factory, Milan runway etc) is versatile but it is the costumes (by Gregg Barnes) that deserve an award. It’s a hit, of that there can be no doubt. This is old-fashioned wholesome entertainment — with five-inch sequinned red heels on.

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