Show Boat & Kinky Boots Reviews

I've kind of hit a mental block with reviewing theatre. Ironically I don't particularly enjoy reading reviews, which has made me second guess what I'm writing. I still want to document my theatre trips, but for the time being, I'm going to try to make them less tedious and more of a personal memoir. It shouldn't be a chore, right?

Within the last few weeks I've seen the London productions of both Show Boat and Kinky Boots, so here goes ...

Show Boat & Kinky Boots Review Kinky Boots

Show Boat Review

Show Boat was a bit of a last minute decision, I was in London visiting a friend the weekend after it opened and decided to take a punt on a ticket from the TKTS booth. I ended up paying £39.50 for a £99 premium stalls seat, which made me very happy until a snobbish old gentleman in a nearby seat had the audacity to question whether I was entering the right row. Ageism is real folks!

Anyway, Show Boat is a 1927 musical about a group of performers on the Cotton Blossom (a Mississippi river boat); which conveys vague themes of love, racism and prejudice. There's no doubt that this is a high-quality production. The cast, which includes (ex Glinda and Christine) Gina Beck and the wonderful Rebecca Trehearn, pull off a powerful vocal performance, however, like most musicals of its time the plot jumps, is quite fickle and didn't scratch further than the surface of my emotions. 

I had an enjoyable afternoon, but I'm quite glad I didn't pay more for my ticket. I'm getting ever closer to the conclusion that I should avoid revivals of pre-1950's material, it's just not my cup of tea.

Kinky Boots Review

I've been um-ing and ah-ing about seeing Kinky Boots for a long time. I first listened to the Broadway cast album back in 2013 and it left me cold; then it won the Tony ... and the Olivier... and I wondered whether I was missing out. My dad kindly put an end to my indecisiveness and bought us tickets for my Birthday.

Kinky Boots (based on the film of the same name) is about a Northampton shoe factory, in the midst of financial ruin, that begins manufacturing high-heeled boots for drag queens. It's very uplifting and not at all subtle in delivering its message of acceptance - you can understand why it's done so well. 

The cast is led by Matt Henry who does an outstanding job as Lola. I think the whole show would fall kind of flat without a strong performer in this role, he more than delivers. I wasn't so keen on Killian Donnelley as the other, kind of lead, Charlie Price; but I think that's because a lot of Charlie's songs are quite shouty and as far as I could comprehend the character does a complete personality U-turn in the middle of act two. 

The music, penned by Cindi Lauper, is very pop-esque. My main problems on first listen to the album was that a lot of the songs are very similar, they aren't particularly lyrically sophisticated and use quite a bit of repetition. While these criticisms still hold true, in person, the uplifting power of the music kind of sweeps you along.

Thinking critically I'm not sure it deserves the amount of hype it's received (I  still think Matilda should have won the best new musical Tony in 2013), but it's seriously infectious fun with a serious message at its core - I can't really argue with that. 

You can find more information about Kinky Boots here.

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