Review: Kinky Boots – at Leeds Grand Theatre Until 20 April

Any show billed as ‘hilarious and heartwarming’ is a magnet for me.  I’m also a sucker for a turnaround tale, whether it’s rags to riches or rescues from ruin!  

So, looking forward to a healthy dose of escapism, the eternal romantic in me had me agreeing to review the multi-award-winning Kinky Boots at Leeds Grand Theatre.  

Not having much knowledge of the detail, other than a pair of thigh-high, sparkly red boots, simply added to the magic for me.  It was fabulous, just fabulous – a ‘watch it again and never be bored’ experience.

Kinky Boots draws its inspiration from a true story.  Charlie Price reluctantly inherits his father’s Northampton shoe factory and strives to rescue it from bankruptcy, with a breakthrough in the form of Lola, an entertainer who needs reinforcements for her stilettos (you’ll see why).  It transpires that Charlie the man also gets the help he didn’t know he needed.

As the story develops, we see relationships born, broken and then repaired.  We’re reassured that everything turns out as it should, with one or two surprises along the way.  What more could we ask?

Lola, played memorably by Kayi Ushe, was spectacular, funny and captivating, as a woman who cannot dance in high heels. Well, this man can, and this man looks amazing.  He made me want to come home and check out my wardrobe! Kayi Ushe is blessed with the full range of entertainment prowess – visual appeal, character conviction, dance and voice.  

Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) the son of Mr Price of “Price & Son” did a cracking job of a son not wanting to inherit the family business.  Joel Harper-Jackson’s voice was amazing and is still resonating with me, along with the image of his own performance, dancing in kinky boots.  You have to see it to be impressed!

Paula Lane, who played Lauren, had me in stitches with her animated dancing, singing and facial expressions.  Sometimes, words are superfluous.

The cast of Angels, Lola’s backing dancers, comprised of men in drag with bodies to die for.  Legs up to their armpits and combining dance with gymnastics. Those splits were impressive!

Every single member of the cast deserved the enthusiastic applause which filled the Theatre at the end of the show.  Staring those shameful, self-appointed size and shape police in the face, it was wonderful to witness a cast of all shapes and sizes demonstrating huge talent and massive audience appeal.  

Kinky Boots – thrilling from beginning to end.  

The last performance is on Saturday 20 April.  Better than an Easter egg! If you can’t make it in Leeds, the show is in Sheffield from 10 to 22 June.  

Tickets are available here.  

Photography by Helen Maybanks.  Photographs provided by Leeds Grand Theatre.

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