Kinky Boots review - shoe thumping show stands up in quality talent

Cast of Kinky Boots
Cast of Kinky Boots

Take a family run centuries-long business in footware manufacturing and it's hard to imagine making it sexy viewing for the stage.

Yet cross industrial hardship with a chance encounter with a drag performer and step up Kinky Boots, the award-winning Broadway and West End hit which makes Blackpool its runway for the next 10 nights.

Kayi Ushe in the role of Lola

Kayi Ushe in the role of Lola

These are shoes of salvation in more ways than one - as grief-stricken and reluctant Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) from Northampton is unexpectedly forced to follow in his father's footsteps in the family business and help save the ailing factory Price and Son from closure and the livelihoods of a loyal workforce.

In an unlikely scenario, the flash bulb moment comes when the uninspired Charlie steps into the 'Land of Lola' a cross-dressing performer in London who is in need of a little support standing high and proud on her own in the most beautiful stiletto boots Price and Son can put together.

As a pair and with a unique friendship formed, they set out to create something quite special to take on the world and more importantly the fashion elite of Milan's famous shoemakers. Rather than Elves and the Shoemaker Lola lends Charlie her performing tribe of 'Angels' to stamp some glamour and glitz on the new shoe line.

The production line plays a central part of the set, mirroring a runway of it's own as this ensemble cast, including the sextet of drag artists, show off not just some seriously fabulous outfits and daring heels but colourful choreography and acrobatics too.

The big shoes moments ultimately come from Kayi Ushe, who commands the Opera House audience from the outset, as the great diva Lola taking her from stage to runway, shedding a cloak of vulnerability along the way while bringing plenty of muscle and mascara.

Ushe delivers Hold Me in Your Heart with the style and grace of a true power house.

It's hard to mistake Cyndi Lauper's distinctive sound track, a unique brand of rock and pop rebooted to carry Harvey Fierstein's heart-warming story of acceptance and friendship.

It's a classic mix catchy numbers from wig-out dance anthems to heart-stopping ballads, among them "The Sex Is in the Heel” "Everybody Say Yeah" to “Not My Father’s Son”.

Paula Lane stamps great fun as hapless and love-struck Lauren, especially in scene-stealer “The History of Wrong Guys” while Harper-Jackson' downtrodden Charlie is endearing and cute in boy-band style.

In a show very much about quality of the product, the talent in this touring production most definitely stands up.

Lauper says she too found a new acceptance when writing her first musical score and was proud to take her own leap of faith. She adds: “It’s a very important show at this time in the world.”

Kinky Boots leaves you with much more than a fetish for thigh high boots and appreciation of shoes.