Review: Kinky Boots at Sunderland Empire

It was a dreary Tuesday as audiences piled into the Sunderland Empire, umbrellas shaken, clothes sodden and any chance of a decent hair-do completely gone.

I had never seen Kinky Boots on the stage, I’d heard of the 2005 film and seen the iconic glittery red boots travel round Sunderland on Instagram, but apart from that, I didn’t know too much.

But as the lights went down and the first act opened on the Price and Sons Factory. I knew we were in for a treat.

The musical, complete with songs by Cyndi Lauper, focuses on Charlie Price (Joel Harper-Jackson) the heir to a failing shoe factory. After a chance meeting with drag queen Lola (Kayi Ushe), Charlie strikes up an unlikely friendship and notices the gap in the market for shoes with sex appeal, suitable for men of course.

So they get to work, of course with a few hilarious hiccups on the way (look out for burgundy-gate), all to create a show-stopping shoe line to impress buyers at Milan fashion week and save the factory. But can they do it?

The lights, the sparkle, the incredible voice and the amazing costumes. All of which Ushe executes as Lola with such finesse and style. 

Her team of drag queens who support her numbers are also perfectly in-sync, with dance routines, costumes and legs to die for.

However it’s not all fun and games, there’s also a much deeper side to this musical which explores Simon (Lola’s real name) and his life away from drag performing. A much sadder element that explores perceptions, family and acceptance both from Simon’s father and his fellow factory workers.

Look out for Lola’s emotionally-charged scene singing to Simon’s father in his nursing home. Every word so strong and every note executed so beautifully, coupled with her flowing white gown and backlights. It was simply unbelievable.

I also have to take a moment to talk about the set. The quick changes, the production of a shoe shop, a boxing ring and a London apartment in seconds. Is something you don’t often see in shows that are travelling to multiple places across the UK. On top of this, the factory setting and production line were so realistic, I couldn’t believe it when dance numbers and songs used the set so seamlessly. (Think Factory production line and Ok Go’s Here it Goes again video.) 

The acting, the emotion, the set, the most uplifting musical numbers you’ll ever hear and an incredibly talented cast. Kinky Boots is one not to be missed. Performing at Sunderland Empire until Saturday 6th June,there are tickets still available here.

https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/kinky-boots/sunderland-empire/

 

SharpLifeReview: Kinky Boots at Sunderland Empire

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