The Art of Kinky Boots

The Art of Kinky Boots

I loved every minute of this fabulously sassy, uplifting and ever so kinky musical. The Tony Award-winning musical that has been dazzling audiences has finally high-kicked its way from Broadway to the West End to The Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent. Kinky Boots the musical features songs from pop star Cyndi Lauper who won the 2013 Tony Award for best original score for her work.

Being a fan of Rue Paul’s Drag Race this was the perfect performance to experience the exuberant talent of drag queens on stage.

The story centers around Charlie Price admirably played by Joel Harper-Jackson who turns his ailing shoe factory into a success by producing a line of sexy heeled thigh-high boots for transvestites after a chance meeting with drag queen Lola played by the superb Kayi Ushe

Based on true life events, the story about a struggling Northampton shoe factory began life as an independent film, following in the footsteps of Brit-hits ‘Billy Elliot’, ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Made in Dagenham’, before being transformed into a musical.

Kinky Boots director Jerry Mitchell told the BBC on opening night how he took the original cast to Northamptonshire to learn about the art of shoe-making.
The county has a centuries-long association with foot-ware manufacture and several specialist companies still operate there.
The factory of family-run company, Tricker’s, provided the template for the exterior set design in the musical.
“When we started rehearsals I took the whole cast to Tricker’s in Northampton,” Mitchell said. “And then all the Tricker’s people came and saw a preview last week – and they flipped out!”
He said the show’s message was about “accepting people for who they are and not making judgements about people before you get to know them”.
And he hoped it would go down well with British audiences. “I tell every cast I work with that you guys grow up with panto, so seeing a man dressed up as a woman isn’t really that big a deal.”

This show is a lot of fun and the script plays up the comedy well, offering the cast some brilliantly tongue-in-cheek one-liners. It is the eccentric costumes and high-octane dance numbers like ‘Sex Is in the Heel’ that draw the audiences in.

Kayi Ushe is brilliant with some athletic dance moves and an incredible voice and is accompanied by a chorus line of incredibly toned drag queens, known as the Angels, they follow in Lola’s footsteps. Sporting a variety of exotic costumes, they do splits, cartwheels and even turn up in the Northampton factory to parade on the conveyor belt as a prelude to their climactic catwalk display. The full company numbers are particularly well put together – especially the stylized boxing sequence during ‘In This Corner’ and the seamlessly choreographed ‘Everybody Say Yeah’ which is a delight to watch.

Despite the rather risqué subject matter the show manages to uphold a family-friendly feel and tackles the matter of gender and sexuality with integrity. It may not be groundbreaking, but the message of accepting ourselves and each other’s quirks is uplifting and relates to men, women and ‘those who have yet to make up their minds’ It is not therefore all glitz and high-kicks, there are some grittier moments that give the show an edgier feel.

All I need to know now is where do I get myself a pair of Kinky Boots!