Sunday, June 16

Kinky Boots – Sheffield Lyceum

Croft House Theatre Company hit the heights once again with this stunning production of Kinky Boots based on the 2005 British film of the same name. The production is coherently Directed/Choreographed by Claire Harriott, has expert Musical Direction from David Burgess, as he conducts an 11 piece orchestra, and effective lighting and sound by Gary Longfield and Nick Greenhill. Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes you from the anything but glamorous ‘Price and Son’ shoe factory in Northampton to the dazzling catwalks of Milan in this sassy, vivacious and heart-warming tale of true British grit with catchy songs by Tony and Grammy Award winning eighties pop princess, Cyndi Lauper and a Book by Harvey Fierstein.

Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations to step into his ‘well-made but boring brown shoes’ and take over the family factory. Escaping to London to begin a new future with upwardly mobile girlfriend Nicola, Charlie receives the dreaded call that Mr Price Senior has died. Forced back to Northampton Charlie’s sense of duty forces him to step into his father’s shoes. With the factory failing and more shoe orders returned than sold….. enter Drag Queen Lola aka Simon from Clacton and his Angels and cue the road to robustly, ravishing red thigh high boots. Charlie learns much more than just how to save his father’s legacy, this is a poignant awakening of acceptance and celebration in diversity that is very relevant in today’s society.

The role of Charlie Price is played by James Smith and there were some lovely moments from this accomplished actor particularly in the more emotive scenes. His singing voice is glorious; although at times he was sounding a little tired; and one of the shows highlights for me was his version of Soul of a Man, which had such raw emotion. Alice Mackenzie as the dorky, love struck Lauren had great energy on stage and her rendition of ‘History of Wrong guys’ was hilarious. Jon Crowther as the initially non accepting macho Don and Mark Harris as the factory foreman George (loved Harris’ performance!) added the comedy of the bemused northern small town men, who; in different ways; were more than just a little confused by men dressed as women! A mention must go to Caroline Fojut as Pat and Helen Green as Trish – both these ladies constantly caught my eye and brought the ensemble to life.

Steven Hayles is everything you would want as a sassy and confident Lola/Simon, with the just the right amount of sensitivity and depth layered under his gloriously fabulous drag queen exterior. And when Hayles sings…wow! His vocal is pure soul and his understanding of lyric is mesmerising particularly in What a Woman Wants. Hayles finds new layers to the character and gives Lola a more balanced equilibrium between spectacle and subtlety. His duet with Charlie; Not my father’s son; brings a tear to the eye and his solo rendition of Hold me in Your Heart had me hanging on every word.

Alongside Hayles – the Angels – James Bell, Chris Barker, Joe White, Connor Lovatt, Richard Granger and Simon Addy were both saucy and sensational if a little tentative to start with. These six drag queen Angels dancing in heels, is something mere mortals can only dream of! Claire Harriott (Director/Choreographer) must be congratulated on this production and the staging of the boxing scene was a stroke of devine intervention by ‘Angels’. The finale number ‘Raise you up/Just Be’ has the audience whooping and clapping and the rapture is well deserved.

Whilst productions of Kinky Boots can sell themselves out to spectacle rather than sincerity, I am delighted to say Croft House Theatre Company does not do so. The heart of this show is firmly where is should be in acceptance and celebration of diversity. This heart-warming, tongue in cheek and glitzy production of Kinky Boots takes you to dizzy heights and leaves you 6 inches above the ground, feeling fabulous and a more than a little bit enlightened. So, put on those heels, your best foot forward and sass on down to see Kinky Boots at the Sheffield Lyceum until Saturday April 1st – You would be a fool not to! https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/kinky-boots

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 28th March 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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