Kinky Boots

Book: Harvey Fierstein, music & lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Opera House, Blackpool
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Kayi Ushe (Lola) in Kinky Boots Credit: Helen Maybanks

It takes a big show to properly fill the size of Blackpool Opera House, and Kinky Boots fits perfectly.

With no fewer than 24 producer credits, including Cameron Mackintosh, and an even bigger cast, this is a Size 13 of a show, an entertaining delight from start to finish, and one that treads on prejudices wherever it sees them.

The touring production of Harvey Fierstein’s hit musical loses none of its outrageous sparkle and even its cast seem taken aback by the overwhelming reception it receives here. But then a Blackpool audience know a star when they see one and in the central role of Lola, Kayi Ushe can command this stage in the style of many of the divas whose names appear on the venue’s scroll of honour.

The fact that ‘she’ is a ‘he’ is probably even more of a selling point in a seaside town now famed as much for its pink economy as it is for fresh air and fun. The show has an extended 10-day run here.

Lola is the London drag act in need of new stiletto boots, and who may just turn out to be the saviour of Charlie Price’s struggling Northampton shoe factory. Which cues up no end of cultural and sexual fault lines, but for all that the story steers refreshingly clear of over-rich innuendo.

Cyndi Lauper’s music and lyrics carry her distinctive power rock brand, but the show’s stand-out songs are undoubtedly the smoother duet of Lola and Charlie on "Not My Father’s Son", and the full-on diva solo of "Hold Me In Your Heart".

Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell ensures there is just as much attention paid to all supporting characters, and that includes a lot of young talent, including Lancashire actress Helen Ternent, a product of Blackpool’s Phil Winston Theatreworks.

Reviewer: David Upton