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The Wednesday evening performance of Kinky Boots at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton was an excellent production. The musical suited the echoing walls of the theatre and the buildings aged, yet exquisite décor complimented the auditory beauty of the accompanying live orchestra and actors’ voices, as well as that of the tactful stage lighting chosen by the wonderful Kenneth Posner.

The use of red lighting to introduce the ‘other world’ of the main drag queen Lola and her dazzling universe, was particularly of note. In fact, the director Jerry Mitchell ensured that an abundance of visual strategies were employed to distinguish the worlds of Lola and the central character, Charlie. This included costume design, Lola and ‘her girls’ wore sequined, raunchy clothing that was brightly coloured, while Charlie and all the characters of Northampton dressed in a conservative, dull manner. This direction reflected the exact nature of the separate universes, which made the acceptance of both parties all the more heart-felt in the finale. Although the musical was overall upbeat, the more tragic side was also included with the opinions of characters like Don, a working-class young man who publicly shames Lola.

The simple set of a two-story stand centre stage lay a perfect site for such intricacies, as well as a providing a vast space for clean choreography executed with great energy from the cast. Cindy Lauper’s music was also of note, it paired beautifully with the sensitive topic of cross-dressing with numbers such as ‘What About’ that destroy the narrow-minded ideals of small towns like Northampton. This use of musicality and movement throughout the show draws nicely as the two contrasting worlds come together in acceptance, enforcing the message of Kinky Boots. Lastly, the west- end star Kayi Ushe who played Lola must not go unmentioned, the actor stole the show with a powerful and emotional performance which in itself is unmissable.

The energetic yet topical show runs at The Mayflower Theatre until the 14th September.

By Olivia Sykes

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