BWW Review: KINKY BOOTS, Cinema Screening
The West End has missed the wit, cheek and high-kicks of Kinky Boots since it strutted off on a nationwide tour last year. Thankfully, the show with a huge heart will be screened in more than 600 cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 4th and 9th February.
Filmed live at the end of last year, the screening features original Kinky Boots cast members, Olivier award-winning Matt Henry and Olivier-nominated Killian Donnelly as Lola and Charlie respectively, as well as the excellent Natalie McQueen as Lauren.
The show is inspired by a true story and follows Charlie Price, who turns his father's struggling shoe factory into a success by making outrageous thigh-high boots, after a chance meeting with drag queen Lola. Both Charlie and Lola work towards overcoming prejudices to achieve mutual acceptance, as well as educating others about the importance of kindness and understanding of people who seem different.
With the continuing success of shows like Everyone's Talking About Jamie, drag and LGBTQ+ issues are more visible than ever, but back when the show debuted in 2015, the show was a trailblazer for the acceptance and celebration of being out of the ordinary. The show never feels preaching in its message about tolerance and acceptance, despite the conversion of the show's dour masculine stereotype Don, played with great humour by Sean Needham.
The lead performances are captivating, with Matt Henry reminding the audience why he won that Olivier. Henry is convincing as a both a boxer and as a drag queen-no mean feat. He belts out the tunes like "Land of Lola" with depth and attitude, but maintaining a softer side with the heartbreaking duet "Not My Father's Son" with Donnelly. Donnelly himself brings depth and real heart to the role of Charlie, who can come across as a little boring at times.
Natalie McQueen is excellent as Lauren; her unrequited love for Charlie is touching and she embraces the role with wonderful quirkiness and warmth. Her rendition of "The History of Wrong Guys" is spirited and one of the best numbers in a show packed with earworms.
The screening was edited after the filming and this gives Film Director Brett Sullivan the scope to use far more camera angles and cuts than is usually possible when a show is edited live. There are some lovely angles from a tracking camera used at edge of the stage and from a large jib, which smoothly elevates the cinema audience up to the factory office and down again. At points, the cuts feel rather too rapid and there is a lack of many wide angles, which loses the visual impact that some of the excellent choreography has on a theatre audience.
However, overall the editing of the screening is enough to really immerse a cinema audience into the experience. The sound mixing is immaculate and close-ups reveal details an audience would never see at the theatre, like the intricacy of the Angels' incredible makeup and the facial reactions of the cast. Close-up shots that really have impact are during the more intimate moments, such as Lola and Charlie's duet and Lola's performance for her father.
Now the tour has finished, the screenings give fans a final opportunity to see this joyful show. Whether you have seen the show in the theatre or not, you will certainly leave the cinema with a smile on your face.
Photo Credit: Matt Crockett