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Kinky Boots (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: Kinky Boots

Society: WWOS (West Wickham Operatic Society)

Venue: Churchill Theatre Bromley. High Street, Bromley, Kent BR1 1HA

Credits: Music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein

 

Kinky Boots

3 stars

After two long years it’s a real treat to be back in the room with the ebulliently enthusiastic West Wickham Operatic Society. The cast and everyone involved with this show were clearly on a totally justifiable high.

And there is a lot to like about this production of the ever-popular Kinky Boots directed by Kevin Gauntlett who also plays the factory foreman, George, stuck in his own time warp but, like almost everyone else, on a voyage of open-minded discovery. Price and Sons, a shoe factory in Northampton narrowly avoids the buffers by a switch to niche marketing – making strong female boots for men. Most people in the audience know the story. The 2005  film did very well as did the West End  musical version and tour.

Danielle Dowsett’s choreography is splendidly slick and full of visual interest.  She has every single chorus member drilled to be totally present and a dynamic part of the action at all times.  She also gets some fine work out of the chorus of drag queens although, for me, they don’t look glamorous enough. Some of their make-up inches towards grotesque.

Michael Simpson’s lighting makes every scene look good, especially the catwalk in Milan. And the eleven-piece pit band, led by MD James Hall is outstanding.

Amongst the principals, Kemal Ibrahim  – “triple threat” fully sewn up – is a show stealer as Lola. He struts, purrs, and gleams in his nightclub numbers, sings in a range of moods and brings a really poignant sense of vulnerability to the nakedness of finally finding the courage to be his gay, male self. The toilet scene is always the best bit of any production of Kinky Boots and Ibrahim gives us a warm, moving performance here with Stephen Bradley (good actor) as Charlie.

On the other hand this Kinky Boots felt under-rehearsed on its opening night. There were too many missed mic cues, tuning problems in the singing and technical theatre problems including clumsy scene changes – you aren’t supposed to hear the thumps and bumps of things being moved about. And please could this company work a bit harder on diction in general and consonants in particular ? Several cast members are inaudible when speaking and many words disappear during the singing.

First published by Sardines: https://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/review/kinky-boots-2/

Author information
Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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