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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Kinky Boots
Adelphi Theatre  Autumn 2015 - January 2019

Kinky Boots is a bright, popsy, colourful, entertaining and instantly disposable musical. You'll enjoy every minute, and forget every minute the minute it passes.

Harvey Fierstein's book, based on a 2005 film, tells of a failing shoe factory that finds a niche market and new life creating glamorous oversized high heels for female impersonators and drag queens. 

Cue some shop floor musical numbers reminiscent of The Full Monty and Made In Dagenham (not to mention The Pajama Game), alternating with flashy drag routines out of La Cage Aux Folles by way of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. 

Throw in just the tiniest amount of drama, in the form of the drag queen whose father rejected him and the guy whose own problems lead him to say some hurtful things to a pal that he instantly regrets, and you have Kinky Boots. 

The songs by Cyndi Lauper are all serviceable pop, though so generic that I defy you to hum a single one of them as soon as it's over. The best, Hold Me In Your Heart, has a bluesy torch song quality that might give it some life outside the show. 

The nominal centre of the show is the young shoe factory boss, but the night belongs entirely to Matt Henry in the flashier role of the drag artist who inspires the factory's new line of products. 

Henry gets not only the big wigs and colourful costumes but all the flashiest production numbers (backed by the sexiest chorus line ever made up entirely of men), and even the big dramatic eleven o'clock song, which is normally the star's prerogative. 

While it is clear that director Jerry Mitchell has chosen to hand the evening to the flashier character and stronger performer, I could imagine that if the factory boss were played by an actor with more personality and stage presence than Killian Donnelly, who keeps threatening to fade into invisibility, he could give Matt Henry some competition for the spotlight and create a more balanced show. 

Anyway, you'll enjoy Kinky Boots. It keeps moving, the big numbers are bright and witty, Matt Henry gives a real star performance, Jerry Mitchell's choreography is frequently very clever, the chorus 'girls' are impressive, and you will not be burdened with remembering much of it once you leave the theatre.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Kinky Boots  - Adelphi Theatre 2015    

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