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A CurtainUp London Review
Killian Donnelly's star quality was recognized in The Commitments and Memphis and he takes the part of Charlie Price, son of old Mr Price (Alan Vicary), whose family have owned the shoe making firm in the Midlands for generations. The death of his father means he has to leave his plans for a London flat, job and girl Nicola (Amy Ross) to stay in the Midlands and run the factory. A chance meeting with drag artist Lola (Matt Henry) inspires the business plan to manufacture high heels robust enough for tall guys to dance in.
This musical is a class act — tell me which other musical lyric contains the word hubris? Cyndi Lauper's music is refreshing and soft rock with upbeat numbers for the Angels, the drag girls to strut their dazzling stuff. London is of course benefitting from Broadway's designer; the shoes alone could go straight into a museum fashion display and that's before Price and Co start making high heeled boots to display at the Milan Fashion Show.
The Angels are mesmerizing, most of them are incredibly tall so their stage presence is guaranteed with elaborate makeup and fabulous clothes, they are elegant show stealers. For once we are not getting a watered down version of the Broadway musical but the real McCoy. Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell has taken a British cast and drilled them into a spectacular show with magical dance numbers.
The bromance between Lola and Charlie allows them both to express their insecurities and Lola faces up to his father's hopes that he would become a boxer when he fights comic naysayer Don (Jamie Baugham) and generously allows him to win. Charlie loses the wrong girlfriend Nicola (Amy Ross), who with a property developer is planning to turn the shoe factory into designer apartments, and finds shoe worker with business nous Lauren (Amy Lennox) and the flats are thankfully swopped for high heels.
Architect and designer David Rockwell's sets have the authentic looking shoe factory with its iron work shop floor, conveyor belts and the office above. Gregg Barnes' costumes are beautiful and, as I have already mentioned, the shoes would be an inspiration to Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin and are works of art.
The pub where Harry (Paul Ayres) and Charlie sing "Take What You Got" has a pretty melody sung really well as a duet. There is something very endearing about Killian Donnelly and he is ideally cast as the self effacing Charlie. Matt Henry as Lola conveys the drag star's brittleness under all that larger than life personality. They contrast well and in "Not My Father's Son" empathise. Both men have voices to die for and the numbers that close both acts have the audience on their feet.
If I were a Broadway producer I'd be queuing up to get Cyndi Lauper to write another musical for me. For Simon Saltzman's review of Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2013 and the complete song list go here.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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