Tuesday, July 23

Kinky Boots – Storyhouse, Chester

Ready for a two-week stint, Kinky Boots has arrived at Storyhouse in Chester – and boy has it done so in style. Directed by Amber Sinclair-Case, the magnificent cast have taken a show full of heart and made it into a magical display of theatre that will leave you in tears of both gut-wrenching sadness and pure, unadulterated joy.

The story, for those unfamiliar, follows Charlie Price (Danny Becker): heir to his father’s failing shoe factory in Northampton, a role he doesn’t want but a reality he has been thrust into. In a bid to save the factory and its team of hardworking, loyal staff – people Charlie has known since childhood – he teams up with larger-than-life drag queen Lola (Duane-Lamonte O’Garro) to make shoes for an ‘underserved niche market’.

This show, however, is more than its story; it is a brave and delightful example of a cast so talented; they can transport you anywhere – whether that be a factory in Northampton, a drag club in London, or a fashion show in Milan. It is rare to find a group of people so adept at acting, singing and dancing, and this cast do it all while also playing a range of instruments like they were simply born to do so. They tell the tale with such love and passion; you have no choice but to root for Price and Son.

Photo: Mark McNulty

With side plots galore and characters so delicately layered, the audience is taken on a journey that is full of ups and downs; the music of the show, written by Cyndi Lauper, reflects this in the best way. The songs range from being beautiful ballads like Lola’s Not My Father’s Son (Duane-Lamote’s version was worthy of a mid-show standing ovation, if this was the done thing in theatre) to incredibly fun, upbeat songs such as The History of Wrong Guys. This one in particular is sung by Lauren, harbouring a crush on Charlie – played at the Storyhouse by the supremely talented Leah Vessall, it will have you belly-laughing and bopping along as you take in every glorious facial expression she makes.

The ensemble were brilliant, playing a range of characters (as well as seamlessly swapping instruments in a way that will leave you speechless) to round out each scene and breathe life into the story. Throughout the show, we bear witness to incredible growth, life changes, heartache, community and a message of ‘be yourself, everybody else is taken’. And this cast, in this performance, do it so expertly you’ll never want to watch the show again for fear of it being not even half as good as this.

With a surprise change of location for the final scene, as well as plenty of ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’ moments, there is a clear harmony between audience and performer in this brilliant adaptation of Harvey Fierstein’s Kinky Boots. It’s fitting that in this particular version of the show most of the audience are already on their feet at the end, because never has a performance been more deserving of a raucous, foot-stamping, wolf-whistling standing ovation. This review can be summed up in five words: go and see this show. https://www.storyhouse.com/

Reviewer: Katy Gilroy

Reviewed: 7th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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