Updated: Thursday, 23rd May 2019 @ 7:49am

Review: Kinky Boots @ Opera House, Manchester

Review: Kinky Boots @ Opera House, Manchester

| By Edward Roberts

Believe the hype.

Manchester has waited ever so patiently for its turn to experience the phenomenon that is Kinky Boots – and now it’s finally here.

The award-winning musical – which has enjoyed an extended run on the West End since opening in 2015 – just landed in town for a three-week stint at the Opera House.

Let’s cut to the chase; the show is, indeed, just as sensational as its reputation would have you believe.  

For those more familiar with the hype rather than the plot, the story revolves around what happens when Charlie Price (played by Joel Harper-Jackson) is tasked with taking over his father’s shoe factory.


CHARISMA: Callum Francis dazzles in the role of Lola

The business – along with its workforce – faces the chop until Charlie becomes inspired by an enigmatic drag queen called Lola (played by Callum Francis) to dare to take a chance on a new product: kinky boots.

The tale that follows can be extremely endearing at times, with powerful messages entwined with copious amounts of fun.

Manchester-born Francis looks in his element playing the fierce and sassy Lola, strutting his stuff in front of a hometown crowd. It’s a world-class performance from the word go – which is unsurprising considering Francis recently landed the same role on Broadway. He’ll take to the New York stage in January.

Kinky Boots could quickly become ‘The Lola Show’ quite early on. After all, the character just commands – and deserves – attention. However, it’s fair to say that the rest of the cast also shine throughout.

ENDEARING: Joel Harper-Jackson delivers an impeccable performance

This is certainly true for Harper-Jackson in the role of Charlie, who even without the sequins and glitter leaves his mark on the production. He’s smooth in getting the audience to invest in Charlie’s plight, meaning each scene is gripping even when the larger-than-life Lola isn’t gracing the stage.

The talented actor actually made his professional debut on the Opera House stage during a production of Rent in 2013.

Props must also go to ex-Coronation Street star Paula Lane in the role of Lauren. Donning blonde hair, the 32-year-old effortlessly sheds her soap star skin as she plays the quirky love interest of Charlie.

The actress truly is a far cry from the one who more than 10 million viewers watched die on the cobbles in 2016 – a welcome surprise for anyone worrying that they’d be watching an out-of-place Kylie Platt.

KYLIE WHO? Paula Lane is a million miles away from her character on Corrie

The high calibre cast move the story along nicely, bringing just the right amount of flair, sincerity and comedy to the dialogue where required.

While the humour is a clear step above your standard fare production, it is expectedly the musical numbers which make this show stand head and shoulders above others.

We’ve 80s megastar Cyndi Lauper to thank for these tunes, as she’s the woman behind the tracks heard during Kinky Boots. The most iconic of which, Raise You Up/Just Be, ends the action on an undisputable high note.

Let’s just say that anyone who’s not on their feet at this point probably has impossible expectations.

All in all, Kinky Boots is the must-watch show running in Manchester this season. It would be a total misstep to allow it to leave town without experiencing first-hand what all the fuss is about.

It’s time to believe the hype.

*Kinky Boots is running at the Opera House, Manchester until Saturday, December 1. You can buy tickets HERE.