Review: "Kinky Boots The Musical" (UK & Ireland Tour) - Edinburgh Playhouse

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Lewis Baird

  • Contributing Critic - United Kingdom

Rarely in our generation is a musical made that is socially relevant, and also so phenomenally entertaining. "Kinky Boots The Musical" has been gaining hype in London and New York for years, in being one of these musical rarities. It has just landed in Scotland, running at the stunning Edinburgh Playhouse during it's prime festive season. Can this musical entertain the masses in Scotland's Capital city this Christmas, while also spreading the message of being who you want to be?

"Kinky Boots The Musical" is based on the hit film, which follows, Charlie Price, who has been burdened with his late father's failing shoe factory. To try and raise profits, he looks for a niche in the market. After bumping into Lola, a drag queen, he decides that his niche should be heels to fit men. However, how will the staff of Price and son react to this MASSIVE change in product?

Kayi Ushe is simply astonishing as the high heeled strutting Lola. The presence that Kayi has created with this character, makes Lola one of the biggest diva's in the UK. His vocal standard for belting these uplifting anthems really is staggering. A most notable mention is his stunning performance of one of the slower pieces within this musical, the ballad "Hold Me In Your Heart", you could forgive him for the late Whitney Houston with his powerful rendition of this song, while showcasing a costume that looks straight from "The Bodyguard". Another highlight of this character is the wit that is featured, mainly through the sass Lola radiates, and Kayi makes sure no opportunities for humour are missed, he never misses a beat. Lola/Simon is the character which lifts this musical and makes it absoloutely fabulous, so you need a very powerful actor to pull it off, and Kayi Ushe does this with confidence, energy and the ability to slay every number he's featured in. Definitely a rising star to keep your eyes on.

Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie gives a very strong performance of an overall straight played role, which of course is why Lola and Charlie's relationship is a definitive component of this musical, as the two characters are polar opposites. The main aspect that shines from this talented actor is his vocal control while singing, at points it literally felt like Joel's voice was about to blow the roof off the playhouse with his unbelievable projection. I feel like the dramatic emotion and tension was dealt with well by Joel, however, the comedy moments could have been played a bit bigger to give the character more light in the dark. But overall, I really enjoyed this performance.

Paula Lane is hilarious as Lauren, she gives this character a different energy from the film, more light-hearted, ditzy humour than seen on screen, which I believe really works. The audience really appreciated the physical humour during her number "The History Of Wrong Guys". Its great to see Paula touring on stage as she seems more suited to theatre acting than TV.

Demitri Lampra supplies some punch in the air moments with his portrayal of Don, he won the audience, especially myself, over straight away with his no phones announcement. And from then on there is a great comic presence, from a character with a hard exterior, but definitely a lovely interior, presented by the actor with great characterisation. Adam Price as George also supplies great physical humour in some unexpected moments.

Charlie Allen Understudied the character of Nicola. It was a great portrayal of a woman very desperate to live her life, and it was clear she had no care for the working life her partner, Charlie, desired.

The ensemble of this show supplied personality, energy and different dynamics to make this performance great. The talented actors featured are Nicola Avino, Lizzie Bea, Connor Colins, Daniel Conway, Shaun Dalton, John J. Dempsey, Niki Evans, Mary Fox, Scarlet Gabriel, Damon Gould, George Grayson, Portia Harry, Joshua Lovell, Jacob McIntosh, Chileshé Mondelle, Alfie Parker, Fred Smiley, Joshua St. Clair, Toyan Thomas-Browne, Andy Watkins and Jason Winter.

The book for this musical is written by the much respected musical theatre aficionado, Harvey Fierstein. The story its self sounds like an unlikely musical hit, however, this story features so many themes and issues that relate to many people living within today's world. Acceptance and friendship are explored within this musical, in ways which had not been done previously. That’s what makes this story really stand out. Harvey’s excellent script is complimented by the uplifting, powerhouse of music and lyrics from Cyndi Lauper. She supplies a varied dynamic of music which acts as a fantastic soundtrack to this story.

Jerry Mitchell's direction and choreography takes something which could be transposed into a beige and unoriginal production, but instead, it’s a piece of theatre which showcases a confident director who knows how to make decisions which not only elevate this production but theatre it's self. His vision works brilliantly with David Rockwell's brilliantly complex, multipurpose, factory set. This set is given more depth with Kenneth Posner’s perfect lighting design, and John Shiver's realistic sound design. Gregg Barnes on costume supplies STUNNING costume for Lola and her angels, plus gives us the realistic costume with the factory workers and Charlie. This production team work seamlessly together to make a theatre event rather than a touring musical.

Kinky Boots The Musical” is an amazing show which not only entertains but conveys an uplifting message to never let anyone stop you from being you. If you are looking for a hell of a lot of joy this Christmas season, then... Ladies! Gentlemen! And those who are yet to make up their minds! Get yourself to “Kinky Boots” one of the greatest musicals to play the Edinburgh Playhouse.

For information on the show and how to get tickets check out the link below: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/kinky-boots/edinburgh-playhouse/