Kinky Boots

Date 15th June 2022
Society Springers Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue The Civic Theatre Chelmsford
Type of Production Musical
Director Susan Corina & Gary Jarvis
Musical Director Ian Myers
Choreographer Brett Bedwell

Report

Author: Christine Davidson

 

Having watched Kinky Boots in the West End we were really excited to see just how Springers would emulate this incredible show.  Well they did, it was absolutely fabulous. From the very start you could see just how much thought and effort had been poured into this production. The sets, wigs, costumes and make up, all brought in for the show, were a feast for the eyes. Directors Susan Corina and Gary Jarvis, with the help of wonderful choreography from Brett Bedwell made this show come alive and wow what a show!

For anyone that has never seen the show we meet Charlie Price who has inherited a failing Northampton shoe factory from his father. Deciding to sell up, he is asked by his work colleague and friend Lauren to find ways of saving the firm. He meets Lola, a drag queen, in a chance encounter, after saving her from a brawl in the street. This leads to an opportunity for him to turn his business's fortunes around. He decides the company will make “Kinky Boots” for Lola and her fellow performers, Lola’s Angels, thereby cornering an otherwise underserved market. He hires Lola as a designer but is Northampton ready for Lola??     

With 45 in the cast I can imagine they had their work cut out making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. The dance scenes with the Angels were super and the whole production was simply a triumph. Never once did I see the leads blocked in any way and the effort that went into this was shown by the way the audience reacted at the finale.

The Orchestra led by Ian Myers was again superb and never once did they overshadow the cast. This music is not easy for anyone to sing and demands a lot from the cast but it proved that amateur theatre can be just as good as professional, the results were excellent,

Charlie Price was played by Charlie Toland.  I have watched Charlie over the years in youth theatre in various leading roles and it’s so good to see him now flourishing on the stage in an adult role. He gave us a finely drawn character, seen through his eyes, with the love of his father and of his life with his on/off fiancée Nicola as well as his friendship with Lauren and the people he had grown up with. His song 'Charlie's Soliloquy' wasn't an easy one to sing but gave us an insight into his thoughts and dreams. I think we all felt his worries, concerns, about how he was going to turn the company round to be the success that we see in the finale.

Ben Miller took on the role of Lola/Simon. This is a huge undertaking for anyone; you really have to believe in the character. In 'The Land of Lola' and 'The Sex is in the Heel' routines Ben quickly established himself as the absolutely, over top fabulous, drag queen but it was in the solo number ' Hold me in your heart’ that we see the sincerity of the real man. The relationship between Lola and Charlie is shown with skill from both of the actors through 'Not My Father's Son' and 'Everybody Say Yes'. Ben skilfully wove the tapestry between Lola and Simon, each becoming the dominant force as required. Congratulations Ben, you deserved the huge applause at the end of the show.

Nicola played by Sophie Holmes is a hard role to play. She has no stand out songs or outrageous costumes and is the sensible slightly spoilt girlfriend of Charlie. She wants to be in London and have a different life to the one that they led in Northampton. You could easily see the love that she had for Charlie and the future that she wanted. You feel her frustration when he decides not to sell the factory. Lexy Phillips as Lauren the factory girl in love with Charlie had a belting, super singing voice; she gave us a highly comedic performance with accomplished skill.

Don (Mat Smith) has a huge resume of acting in musicals, so has plenty of experience on the stage. As Don the Factory Foreman he gave us a rough chauvinistic, homophobic character, who loves to drink with the boys and cannot understand Lola. We see his change of heart during the show; he was totally believable in the role.  I also liked the character of reliable George, the Factory Manager (Julian Harbrow) who gave realism and gravitas to the show.

Pat and Trish (Rebecca Webber & Sophia Harrop) both these ladies gave enthusiastic performances.  Pat is in management and Trish from the factory floor but both have the future prosperity of the factory at their hearts, They both showed they understood their characters well given the limited opportunity, in the script to shine. 

We mustn't forget Mr Price (James Wilkins) entering at the very beginning with his song 'The most beautiful shoes in the world' and the two young boys in the roles of young Charlie and young Lola. (Matthew Mullender and Zak Spong)  James characterising a loving father, but an outdated man, about to be swept aside by modern changes in style and fashion, both of the young boys acted very confidently on stage.

The Angels were all outrageously fabulous in their gorgeous costumes, make up and wigs giving wonderfully confident dancing and singing, which the audience loved. In their high heel Kinky Boots they looked the epitome of professional drag queens; you could see just how much they were enjoying their roles on stage. Well done to Alexandra Jenkins, Helen Dunn, Karla Brown, Kat McKeon, Matt Scott and Tallulah Hemmings.

To the entire ensemble, I say a huge congratulations, as every single one of you were simply fabulous and as a first night it was almost seamless bar a little bit of clunking as scenery was moved and a few slow lighting cues.  Just one thing, I do wish Lola hadn't come out at the end of the show and talked to the audience as I felt it impacted the suspension of disbelief but this was just a view point of mine and I hope the rest of the week is as successful.  I urge everyone to grab a ticket for this wonderful show.