I’ve been meaning to see Kinky Boots for a long time, and I’ve been entering the TodayTix lottery for what feels like an eternity. One hungover Tuesday afternoon, I somehow managed to win the elusive lottery, and found myself sitting front and centre at the Kinkiest show in the city.

Kinky Boots is based on the 2005 film which in turn is loosely based on true events, and in a nutshell tells the story of Charlie Price, a London-bound man who is begrudgingly thrust into head position at his family’s show-making business, Price & Son, after his father suddenly dies.

With both business and his relationship with fiancee Nicole souring, Charlie by chance meets Lola, a drag queen who convinces him to begin making the titular Kinky Boots which can hold the weight of a full-grown man. The story hurtles forward with Charlie’s community against him, an impending fashion show in Milan, and the past popping up for both Lola and Charlie, all accompanied with a whirlwind of sassy choreography, beautiful ballads, and a motivational message.

The show recently celebrated its first birthday in the West End, at the Adelphi Theatre, and its easy to see why. Having won three WhatsOnStage Awards and two Olivier Awards, it is not only loved by audiences, but critically acclaimed, too.One of the Olivier Awards was for Matt Henry, who plays Lola, and has done since the show began in London. Henry is a standout. Playing Lola in equal measures of sassy and sensitive, he owns big numbers such as ‘Land of Lola’ and ‘Sex is in the Heel’, but also tugs on the heartsrings and gives the audience his soul during emotional solo ‘Hold Me in Your Heart’. One can only think of the likes of Whitney and Beyonce at this moment in the show.
Every time Henry steps onto the stage, you cannot take your eyes off of him, and his ‘Angels’ who accompany him are just as fantastic and extremely talented dancers.

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Whilst Henry has been playing Lola since the beginning, there are new members of the cast stepping into the Kinky Boots routine. Charlie Price is played by David Hunter, who is a pretty good frontman with dry Northern humour and a great delivery of his multiple soliloquies. However, Hunter often pales in comparison to Henry, rather than join him as the show’s duo, and looks unsure of himself. I suspect that these are merely teething problems which will fade as his run in the role continues.
My favourite character by far is Charlie’s eventual kooky love interest, Lauren (Elena Skye). This is Skye’s first professional role, and she grabs it by the heels! She is the girl next door – quirky and fun, and extremely relatable. Her solo number (and sadly her only one), ‘The History of Wrong Guys’, is a fun verbatim-style tune which details her previous romances and new-found crush on Charlie (No, no, no, girl, don’t you DARE…oh no.”). Skye is ballsy and hilarious, and most definitely having the time of her life. She is one to watch.
Alan Mehdizadeh, as Don, was a standout cast member for me also. Mehdizadeh played the journey of Don’s ignorance and prejudice to accepting with style, and proved that anyone can change their minds and accept people – all it takes is to open your eyes.

The songs, written by Cyndi Lauper, are catchy pop tunes which will get stuck in your head, and Jerry Mitchell’s choreography will have you tapping your feet and trying out a few of Lola’s moves in your mirror at home. Kinky Boots is a bedazzling, feel-good show with a lot of heart and a lot of laughs, and ultimately tells us the best message of all: To accept ourselves and others as they are.

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Photos from the Kinky Boots official West End website.

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