Review: Kinky Boots still in fashion on Northampton stage

Sarah Becker reviews Kinky Boots at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton
''A real spectacle for the audience': Northampton Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots''A real spectacle for the audience': Northampton Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots
''A real spectacle for the audience': Northampton Musical Theatre Company's production of Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots radiates warmth and inspiration, and Northampton Musical Theatre Company’s adaptation delivered moments and songs that connected with the audience.

The story revolves around a struggling shoe factory in Northampton. The factory is on the verge of bankruptcy when Charlie Price, the son of the factory owner, inherits the business after his father’s unexpected death. Charlie is determined to save the factory and its workers from unemployment. He stumbles upon an unexpected opportunity when he meets drag queen name Lola, who is in need of sturdy and fashionable high-heeled boots. Charlie and Lola form an unlikely partnership with Charlie using his manufacturing skills to create the stylish yet sturdy kinky boots Lola needs.

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I was taken with how the company managed to deliver the musical, which is set in the early 2000s, so that its themes stood out as still relevant. A struggling business having to diversify to stay afloat hit a chord as hardship and insecurity are topics that resonate with many people today. So too did the theme of acceptance and embracing one’s individuality.

The set was superb, the factory brought to life with an incredible set, lighting and sliding doors.

Dan Hodson as Charlie Price took a tricky part, essentially the straight man, and made it shine.

Rachel James gave a great performance as Lauren, providing the musical with a comic element as she takes a shine to the factory owner who is married to Nicola, played by Ashleigh Standage.

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Fortunately for Lauren, Nicola can’t stand being in Northampton, preferring the allure of London. The two separate, leaving the playing field clear for some wonderful comic moments to emerge between Charlie and Lauren as love blossoms amidst the boots.

Northampton boy Luke White played Lola, who delivered some pathos to the role as he struggles to embrace his individuality.

The whole cast delivered the ensemble songs led by musical director Rod Iliffe with verve, creating a real spectacle for the audience who took to their feet with enthusiasm at the end of the show. It was a fitting tribute to what is clearly a huge team effort.

Until October 28. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk to book.

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