Angharad Paull is treated to a bedazzling performance of Kinky Boots at Bristol Hippodrome, here's what she thought...

Kinky boots bristol hippodrome review

Image - Kinky Boots, credit Helen Maybanks

The show opens on the floor of a Northampton shoe factory, a curious place for a production entitled ‘Kinky Boots’ and emblazoned with glittering red thigh-high heels. And that’s exactly the point. Two worlds collide when Charlie (played by Joel Harper-Jackson), having inherited the factory from his dad, takes over the struggling family business and in a chance encounter with cross-dressing entertainer Lola (Kayi Ushe - whose ability to walk/dance in heels is astonishing, much better than mine!), realises the future of the factory lies in creating robust stiletto boots for men who like to dress as women. This realisation sparks a friendship between the unlikely pair, who must learn to embrace their differences in order to find the best version of themselves. And that’s a huge theme of the show – acceptance of yourself and others, which feels particularly relevant in 2019.

The show is packed full of memorable moments – from the introduction of Lola, to Lauren’s (Paula Lane) hilarious and slightly dorky realisation that she has a crush on Charlie (her armpit wafting is highly entertaining) and Lola (or in this particular scene, Simon) and Charlie pouring out their hearts to each other in what is a heartfelt and extremely moving scene. Then there’s the visually-amazing celebration of the factory workers’ completion of the boots, involving treadmill-adapted performances by the cast who whizz about the stage to a feisty number, ‘Everybody say yeah’. And of course, the finale which begins with Charlie completely out of his depth, about to strut the catwalk in the boots himself, and ends with the whole cast (including those who were originally averse to everything Lola stood for) parading proudly around the stage in the iconic boots. These were later seen on one of Bristol Hippodrome's stewards as we were leaving - a briliant little touch!

We’ll light you up like a live wire’ the cast of Kinky Boots sing proudly at the end, and nothing could be truer as the entire audience got to their feet in a standing ovation, clapping along to the dazzling final number, whooping, cheering and defining the term ‘rapturous applause’.

With songs written by eighties pop icon Cyndi Lauper, there are times you can hear a hint of her in the music and many of the tunes are extremely catchy. Sassy, vivacious, tongue-in-cheek, poignant, relevant, saucy, heart-warming and full of glitz, Kinky Boots goes down as one of the best musicals I have ever seen. 

Kinky Boots is currently touring the UK and showing at Bristol Hippodrome until 9 March. Buy tickets here.

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One of the country's top provincial theatres, which proudly continues to stage major West End and Broadway productions.

Kinky Boots at Bristol Hippodrome
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Kinky Boots at Bristol Hippodrome

Winner of every major Best Musical award, including the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, 'London's hottest musical' (Smooth Radio) Kinky Boots is touring the UK in 2018/19!