Review: Kinky Boots at the Opera House

Based on a true story about a struggling shoe factory, Kinky Boots burst onto the scene as a British film back in 2005.

Seven years later it started to strut its stuff on stage as a hit musical, winning a plethora of Olivier Awards along the way.

Now, on its first ever UK national tour, the show has brought its sequins and sparkle to the Opera House for a 3 week run, showing Manchester audiences why it has been hailed as simply ‘fabulous’!

Kinky Boots follows a failing family business in Northampton that creates brogues galore but not much else. When the owner dies suddenly, the factory is handed over to son Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) who isn’t that enthusiastic about stepping into his father’s shoes (in every sense of the word).

Things take a turn for the better though when Charlie has a chance meeting with Lola (Callum Francis), Queen of the drag scene. Lola needs boots that can fit her and together they design their socks off and create magic – plus in doing so realise that they aren’t so different after all.

Callum Francis is in a league of his own as Lola, the musical theatre star commands the stage in every scene and is as fierce and fabulous as his character demands. It’s no wonder Callum has just been announced as playing the role on Broadway and the fact our UK audiences get to see him in the role first is just brilliant! Lola’s legs are the envy of every woman in the audience and Callum’s vocals are spine tingling, especially in his powerful solo ‘Hold me in your Heart’.

Elsewhere Joel Harper-Jackson excels in the other lead role of Charlie, belting out an impressive rock voice that leaves you in awe of the notes he has reached.

Joel pulls off one of the best on-stage rants I’ve seen in a while, proving his acting is as good as his vocals. He manages to produce a great portrayal of a young man unsure on how to handle his legacy and wanting to prove he can do his father justice.

Whilst it is evident the spotlight is thrown on the two male leads in Kinky Boots, there’s impressive support in the form of the females in the cast, with former Coronation Street’s star Paula Lane as factory worker and love-lorn Lauren and Helen Ternent as Charlie’s highly strung and frustrated fiancé.

Both present well-rounded characters with Paula having a touch of the ‘Cyndi Lauper’ about her when it comes to delivering the songs, possibly influenced by the fact that the musical score is written by the 80’s pop star and echoes both her style and quirky humour.

Hats off too to costume designer Greg Barnes who has created not just an array of impressive outfits for Lola but also for her drag queen ‘Angels’. There’s a nod to the Spice Girls in there with a Union Jack number, an incredible version of the London Beefeater uniform and a wealth of thigh high boots that have more sparkle than in the whole series of Strictly Come Dancing!

This is definitely the ultimate feel-good show, which leaves you with the important message ‘be true to yourself’ and has you wanting to go out and keep those kinky boots dancing till dawn!

Runs until Dec 1st at Manchester’s Opera House

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