One of the best new musicals in years is currently playing at the Adelphi Theatre, where Killian Donnelly’s shoe baron reboots his failing family business with the help of the outrageous Lola (Matt  Henry), a raucous drag queen with a thing for red and sexy boots (‘The Sex is in the Heel’ being one of the showstopping songs).

Charlie (Donnelly) and Lola/Simon are both introduced in a powerhouse opening number (‘The Most Beautiful Thing in the World’), first as children, then as the young adults they have become – this works well, and Cyndi Lauper’s driving pop score sets the scene for a totally feel-good production.

Based on the popular film, itself loosely based on the real Northampton factory which sold fetish footwear successfully for some years, Harvey Fierstein’s book fleshes out the role of Lola, whose solo Act 2 number ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ and duet with Charlie (‘I’m Not My Father’s Son’) are emotionally engaging.

The numbers with Lola and her Angels are dragtastic which secondary characters like Lauren and Don have their own chances to shine.  You’ll know from the start that Charlie’s engagement to materialistic Nicola is doomed, and that there will be an Act 2 showdown, but the ending is life-affirming and touching.

Matt Henry in particular is a revelation – but I liked Amy Lennox as man-mad Lauren, Jamie Baughan as macho Don, and Michael Dobbs as sensible factory man George.  Donnelly’s character arc is not that believable but that doesn’t matter too much.

A gloriously fun night in the theatre which I would love to see again.

Advertisements