As Kinky Boots arrives at London’s Adelphi Theatre, Stylist takes a behind-the-scenes tour of the West End’s fabulous new musical.
There’s something special about a show that makes you laugh a lot, cry a little, think hard, covet the soundtrack and envy the cast’s ability to dance in heels. That’s why Kinky Boots, the Cyndi Lauper/Harvey Fierstein Broadway hit and winner of six Tony Awards, is a welcome addition to London’s theatre scene.
Based on the 2005 film of the same name, itself inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots is about a Northampton shoe factory that saves itself from bankruptcy by changing direction to specialise in footwear for drag queens.
“It’s the most demanding thing I’ve ever done,” admits Matt Henry, former finalist in The Voice, who plays Lola, the cross-dresser at the centre of the action. The singer’s experience as a catwalk coach on Britain And Ireland’s Next Top Model only partly prepared him for the role. “Teaching models to walk in heels is one thing, but two hours dancing in them is something else. Preparing for the role was like an athlete’s training. We joke that I was like Bambi at first, training to be Black Beauty.”
One of the show’s themes is Lola’s friendship with Charlie, the factory owner, as they bond over their angst about living up to their fathers’ expectations. “Parental expectation is something everyone relates to,” explains Matt. “I do, even at 36. Audiences really connect with the show.”
Amy Lennox, who plays Lauren, agrees. “I’ve had people talk to me after the show, saying, ‘I’m Lauren’ or ‘I’m Lola’,” she says. “The messages about self-acceptance and the idea you can change the world when you change your mind resonate with everyone. It has real heart.” It’s a show to fall head over (six-inch) heels in love with, right enough.