KINKY BOOTS @ CAPITOL THEATRE


‘The most beautiful thing in the world is a shoe’ .

Shoes can be art, lovingly crafted sculpture.
Kinky Boots has bounced into Sydney! Price and Son have taken over the Capitol to screams of delight from shoe people.

This bright bold and colourful musical with a huge heart will have you dancing in the aisles. It is often joyous , sexy and exuberant yet also deals with underlying darker issues. It is a story about self-acceptance,  personal growth, prejudice and the acceptance of outsiders .

Kinky Boots is the show that beat Matilda in the 2013 Tony Awards for best Musical – to some raised eyebrows.       The show is splendidly cast and performed with enormous joy and vigour. The musical was written by Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) and composer Cyndi Lauper.  It is based on the 2005 film of the same name – a UK drama similar to the likes of Brassed Off, The Full Monty and others – where the narrative follows Charlie Price (Toby Francis), the unwilling new owner of his family’s struggling Northampton shoe factory, who pairs up with drag queen Lola (Callum Francis – no relation) as his designer to create a new line of stiletto-heeled boots which can handle the weight of cross-dressing men, and simultaneously save Charlie’s employees from unemployment.

The store is driven by a collection of glamorous cross-dressers , Lola’s Angels, who sing about giving “good epiphany’’ and how the “sex is in the heel’’. There are also allusions to Phantom of the Opera, La Cage Aux Folles, Legally Blonde, The Producers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels , Catch Me If You Can , Billy Elliott and even The Boy From OZ.

Fierstein’s witty dialogue enchants, but the somewhat uneven narrative struggles a little in the second half when an uncharacteristic tantrum from stressed out Charlie in the lead up to a major fashion show in Milan halts production at the factory. The contrived conflict between Charlie and Lola is swiftly resolved, and then the show leaps to the exuberant, upbeat conclusion.
It has to be said that Lauper’s lyrics don’t always soar and are at times repetitive . However Everybody Say Yeah joyously takes us to interval and the rousing , exuberant finale Raise You Up/Just Be has the audience clapping along . The reflective ballad Not My Father’s Son , one of the major highlights of the show, is poignant and moving as Charlie and Lola realise they have more in common than they thought.

The production depends heavily on the presentation of the two leads, Charlie and Lola,both of whom give stellar performances.

Callum Francis from the UK is magnificent as flamboyant, Out There Lola who sets the stage alight.. Stylish, sexy , sultry and seductive she has the audience eating out of her hand as the compassionate, wounded transgender performer. A fully rounded character is deftly, touchingly created – we see both her vulnerability and courage for example as Lola staring down homophobic Don at the factory and vamping it up in Land of Lola and Sex Is In The Heel. Francis is a powerhouse triple threat moving deliciously and with masterful vocals.

As Charlie Price, his co-star, Toby Francis (no relation) is very impressive , his rather self effacing, modest appearance combined with a fabulous tenor voice . Together both have excellent theatrical chemistry especially for example in Not My Father’s Son.

The cast of supporting characters – particularly Sophie Wright as Lauren, the factory worker with a deepening crush on Charlie (expressed with great comedic flair in ‘The History of Wrong Guys’) and Lola’s drag troupe, the Angels – are also terrific.

Joe Kosky is imposing in the role of inflexible homophobe Don .Teagan Wouters is delightful with a great singing voice in the role of Charlie’s rather pompous fiancé Nicola. Emma Powell impresses as factory employee Trish and Nathan Cater is excellent as rather restrained factory foreman George.

Gregg Barnes’ colourful costume designs are sensational and the Boots themselves are wickedly enticing .

Director Jerry Mitchell organises the flow of production elements as fluidly and elegantly as he choreographs the cast. Every member of the company plays a distinct character, which Mitchell establishes and maintains with pizzaz and panache.

Choreography ranges from MTV to Latin-American based and includes a gym inspired routine using the conveyor belts of the factory.

David Rockwell the set designer has fluidly created a multi level world of brick , steel and stained glass windows with some sliding on and out panels . Masses of lights are embedded in the set for Kenneth Posner’s amazing work, increasing pizzaz and glamour, especially for Lola’s drag club numbers , Hold Me In Your Heart and for the climactic Milan fashion parade for the finale – so there are nuanced use of shadows and aspects of the set are hidden to focus on different locales. You can change the world when you change.your mind,” as Lola explains ..

This was a great crowd pleasing inspirational musical with stellar performances that will have you grinning as you leave the theatre .

Running time just under 2 & ½ hours, including interval.

Kinky Boots is at the Capitol Theatre currently selling until July 23 then moves to the QPAC in Brisbane .

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