Review: Kinky Boots

By Milly Wicks

DULOG’s Kinky Boots is nothing short of a phenomenon. Growing from strength to strength, this performance is one of Durham’s finest, and this cast and crew are entirely worthy of the two standing ovations they have received thus far. 

Following the unlikely partnership of Charlie, who has just inherited his late father’s shoe factory, and Lola, a flamboyant drag queen, the two help build a new future for Charlie’s company by producing some truly incredible boots. The sheer production value of the show, clearly lovingly curated by the director Emily Phillips, assisted by Lengana Mashaphu, took the audience through evidently emotional moments to high energy, electric numbers. Being unfamiliar with the show, what really surprised me were the moments of comedy, which were handled perfectly. The vision was clear throughout, and I can only commend them for their hard work, which has seriously paid off. The entire cast is exceptionally and consistently strong. Every cast member was given the opportunity to shine in their own moments, which is where Phillips’ direction really paid off. The talent throughout is extensive, and I wish I had the words to mention everyone!

It is only fair to start with Damola Amusa, who embraced the highly nuanced role of Lola with full energy, completely encapsulating the emotional needs of the character. Amusa’s voice is something special, with an incredible range and some seriously impressive riffs. These particularly shone within the song “Hold Me in Your Heart.” His performance made me laugh, cry, and shout “SLAY” at the top of my lungs. It is safe to say he definitely has a strong future in DST, and I am really looking forward to seeing what he does next. 

The vision was clear throughout, and I can only commend them for their hard work, which has seriously paid off

as Charlie was, simply put, outstanding. Jones’ characterisation grew from strength to strength, epitomised in the emotional number “Soul of a Man,” which turned out to be my favourite song of the show. It goes without saying that Jones’ vocal talent is just unbelievable, through the sheer clarity and emotion placed onto every note. Overall, Jones’ performance would not be out of place on a West End stage. It is clear that every character choice was deliberate, aiming for maximum effect, and I can confirm; he was absolutely successful in this.

Other mentions must go to and Olivia Wilson, who played off each other beautifully. I found myself crying from laughter in Askew’s solo song “The History of Wrong Guys,” which is a complete standout due to her excellent portrayal. Wilson provided a brilliant contrast to Askew’s palpable energy, and excelled in her own right, playing the uncompromising, career driven partner to Charlie perfectly. 

Lastly, a review that left out the fabulous Angels (Stephen Mcloughlin, Tomos Owen, Matthew Bourne, Charlie Lloyd-Jones, Hannah Foster, Milo Anderson) would be entirely amiss. Performing in six inch heels, all six of them were absolute crowd favourites from their thorough commitment to the role – never missing a beat and raising the energy of every number they were in. Their introduction within “Land of Lola,” was quite frankly transcendent. The choreography in these numbers (by Xanthe Gibson,) is fantastic. Dancing in six inch heels must be no easy feat, but the choreography skilfully accommodates for this, and plays to all the Angels’ strengths.

The talent throughout is extensive, and I wish I had the words to mention everyone

I can only extend my praise to the musical direction team, consisting of and Will Drake. Harmonies throughout were tight and clean, and the band was balanced within itself well, which was fundamental to the show’s success. The sound on the night faced some minor issues, but these were corrected efficiently, thanks to the production team led by Emily Rose Jupe. The lighting (designed by Oscar Scott,) also elevates the show, complementing the performance well, and making for some really special moments.

Overall, this production is a pure joy to watch. The infectious energy makes it impossible to leave without a smile on your face, and has definitely started DULOGs year with a bang. Catch Kinky Boots this Saturday for their matinee (as all other shows have sold out!) and trust me: you will not be disappointed.

Image: and Vivienne Shaw, DULOG

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