Kinky Boots: as camp as Christmas, this rom-com musical struts its stuff at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Kinky Boots has marched majestically into town to dazzle audiences over the Festive season at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 5 January 2019 before stutting off around the UK.

The original British-American movie (2005) was inspired by real life events.  The W.J. Brooks Shoe Company in Northampton was founded in 1898, and continued as a very successful family business for the next century making 4,000 pairs of traditional shoes and employing 70 people.  But then cheaper imports from the Far East began to destroy the British shoe industry causing redundancies.

Like a fairy godmother, the owner of a shop in Folkestone requested an order of thigh high PVC boots for cross-dressers and drag queens male size and the entrepreneurial company manager Steve Pateman saw the potential of a diverse new market, and produced a range called Divine Footwear.

Steve Pateman, the original Kinky Boots shoemaker

The amazing change of fortune for W. J Brooks was featured in BBC documentary, “Trouble At The Top” in 1999.  This inspired a fictionalised version of the story for a comedy film and “Kinky Boots” premiered in 2005 with the tag line: “How far would you go to save the family business?”

Scene from Kinky Boots, the Movie

From big screen to the Broadway stage in 2013, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a lively score and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, (the legendary composer of such enduring hits as “Time After Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,”), foot tapping choreography by Jerry Mitchell and a book by Harvey Fierstein.

The reinvented storyline features Charlie Price who is the fourth generation of his family business, Price & Son, a shoe factory in Northampton, but is not keen to take over from his father and plans to move to London with Nicola, his ambitious girlfriend who wants to escape small town life. But when his father suddenly passes away, he inherits the shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The set is all about minimalist and flexible staging and props. A front screen shows the brick wall exterior with the Price & Sons sign, opening up into the factory with a moveable platform, boxes of shoes and a bustling crowd of staff.  Desperate to follow his father’s legacy and save the family business, Charlie finds inspiration after a fortuitous encounter with a transvestite cabaret singer, Lola who inspires Charlie with the offer of a contract to manufacture a line of mansize fetish footwear for her drag queen dancers, The Angels.

Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie in Kinky Boots

With Lola in charge of design alongside the fun and funky, Lauren, as project manager, the cobblers get into production mode  with samples selected and prototype created for sparkling knee high, latex and leather high heel boots.

Like a mash up of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” with a dazzling dash of “Sex and the City”,  it’s a heartwarming story to reveal how important fashion is in helping people whatever race, class and sexuality, to express themselves with gay abandon.

Lola and her cabaret of Angels

Don, a down to earth factory worker is steeped in tradition where men are macho and women are feminine; challenging him to a duel of wits, Lola plays a central role in illustrating how we must accept people for whom they are without prejudice and discrimination.  Charlie and Lola may be worlds apart in social background but their business collaboration transforms into a buddy buddy friendship.  Portrayed with a rather innocent boyish charm, Joel Harper-Jackson, Charlie gradually opens his eyes to see what matters most, to take a change of direction both at work and in his love life.

With gleeful energy, expect a mixture of pop, raunchy rock, torch song ballads and disco Drag Queen numbers. Slick choreography throughout is jazzed up with acrobatic flair for a brilliant scene on and off the fast moving conveyor belt.

The dynamic diva, Lola (Kayi Ushe)

Kahi Ushe stars as the dynamic diva Lola with exhilarating poise and pizzazz, tough cookie humour as well as a heart of gold.  The Angels are stunningly beautiful,  strutting the catwalk to show how these sparkling red boots are made for dancing and prancing ….not just walking.

As colourful and camp as Christmas, this high kicking, rom-com musical is a crazy antidote to the traditional pantomime – jolly, joyful festive entertainment for all the family.

“Kinky Boots” is at the Edinburgh Playhouse

Monday 10 December, 2018 to 5 January, 2019

UK Tour 2019:

http://www.kinkybootsthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/tour-dates-venues.php

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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