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Kinky Boots- concert review

★★★★★


While concert productions are different to witnessing a fully fledged musical, who’s to say they are worth any less? As this reimagined version of Kinky Boots, directed by Omar F. Okai, has proven as part of a series of these, they are an equally special experience if done right.


With the 'Price and Son Theme' introducing the cast to the stage, Charlie Price- Joel Harper-Jackson- and his father (Graham Bickley) begin to discuss plans for the future, with regards to the inheritance of the business. Initially resenting the idea, Charlie and his girlfriend, Nicola (Daisy Wood-Davis) move into a new flat in London. When the shoemaker's factory is left to him sooner than expected, they face a huge dilemma to decipher how to keep the place afloat.


'The Most Beautiful Thing' first demonstrates the prowess of everyone involved, and sets up the rest of the show well, drawing the audience in. Soon after, flamboyantly entering to the 'Land of Lola', it is immediately evident that Cedric Neal's stage presence is electric and he is made for the role. A total powerhouse, no riff is unchartered ground and every movement, comment and song is embraced wholeheartedly and presented without fault. The choreography, particularly for him and his Angels, is captivating, and a fantastic use of the space, considering the concert concept.


As Lauren, Courtney Bowman's tackles 'The History of Wrong Guys' head on, showing off her hilarious yet proficient persona. For Charlie, his heartfelt solo 'The Soul of a Man' is notably conducted excellently, though Joel is consistently skilful in his presentation throughout the show. During 'In This Corner' in the second act, the audience get a bit more of a taste for the ensemble, with Kayleigh McKnight's growls sounding especially satisfying. The music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper is the perfect blend of sentimental depth, and upbeat joy. Other hit tracks include 'Step One', 'Sex Is in the Heel' and 'Raise You Up/ Just Be' as the iconic finale.


Between the three leads in particular, the way their characterisation manipulates comedic timing is spot on, and the dynamics between the boys in particular is beautiful. Additionally, thoughtful and alluring lighting choices by Ben Cracknell play a big part in ensuring the piece appears visually sophisticated yet fun when it needs to be.


This cast as a whole will leave you in awe. The atmosphere they create throughout the auditorium is unmatched, with a show-stopping additional standing ovation for Cedric after 'Hold Me In Your Heart' being a pinnacle moment for both emotion and wonder of the energy produced on stage. Collectively, their talent is a triumph, and it is simply impossible to give credit to every song, though they are all an absolute treat.


With the plot line remaining clear, despite the lack of set and additional costumes and dialogue, the show is a perfect demonstration that it can be done as a stripped back performance, providing those involved are talented individuals that emphasise the mannerisms of their characters, and have incredible voices to match. This could, perhaps, become a more prevalent concept in the theatre scene, and invited too, with knowledge that it can be a success.


This reimagined concert, was a true masterclass of theatre: through vocals and stage presence from all, to gorgeous orchestral tones to a stunning soundtrack. It is an utter privilege to watch unfold.




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