Reviews

Rating : 4 stars

Review: Kinky Boots, The Q (Queanbeyan, NSW)

Free-Rain Theatre Company’s production captures the joy of the Broadway musical.
Review: Kinky Boots, The Q (Queanbeyan, NSW)

Rania Potaka-Osborne (left) and back-up dancers. Photo: Free-Rain Theatre Company.

After first gracing the Broadway stage in 2013, the dazzling story of Kinky Boots has finally reached the outskirts of Canberra. Kinky Boots stars Martin Everett as Charlie Price, who inherits the Price & Son shoe factory at the start of the show only to find that his father’s legacy is on the verge of bankruptcy. Inspired by a chance meeting with drag queen Lola, Charlie sets his sights on cornering the niche market of making high-heeled boots for men in order to save the factory.

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Free-Rain Theatre Company’s production truly captures the joy of the original Broadway musical. They put on a show that somehow has it all – there are show-stopping numbers, contemplative ballads, dance breaks, and emotional arcs as well as plenty of funny quips. From the very beginning of its opening number ‘The Most Beautiful Thing in the World’, you are immediately transported to another world just like in any classic theatre experience. This effect is enhanced by Cate Clelland’s beautiful set which at first presents itself as the exterior walls of the factory but then comes apart to become the interior shelves of the factory itself. The set brilliantly establishes the variety of different locations where the show takes place. It takes full advantage of the stage size at The Q in establishing a large factory floor but also not fearing to use negative space to emphasise the small size of a London apartment.

Without a doubt, the real highlight of the show has to be Rania Potaka-Osborne’s performance as Lola. Potaka-Osborne brilliantly captures Lola’s confidence and charisma while also being able to deliver the smaller, more intimate moments. He presents a truly three-dimensional character in Lola and you will leave the show with him still dancing in your mind. Potaka-Osborne’s performance is strengthened by the glamour of his six back-up dancers, two of which are played by local Canberra drag queens Areola Grande (David Santolin) and Toni Kola (Lachy Agett). Lola’s story feels particularly important in Canberra’s current climate of same-sex marriage plebiscites and toxic Q&A debates. Kinky Boots stands apart by presenting an example of how to accept everyone of any identity, no matter their gender or sexuality.

Brittanie Shipway also shines as factory worker Lauren, delivering the character’s bumbling awkwardness while flawlessly hitting her high notes with possibly the best vocal performance of the show.

The show is only let down by an anti-climactic Act 2 where the conflict feels a bit forced in an otherwise uplifting and positive show. Nonetheless, Kinky Boots is enjoyable overall and a real highlight of the 2019 season for Canberra theatre so far.

4 stars out of 5 ★★★★

Kinky Boots
Free-Rain Theatre Company
Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Original Broadway production directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Based on the Miramax motion picture Kinky Boots written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth
Directed by Derek Walker
Musical Direction by Nicholas Griffin
Choreography and Associate Direction by Michelle Heine
9-28 July 2019
The Q (Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre), Queanbeyan NSW
Tickets $55-$74

Julia Faragher

Thursday 18 July, 2019

About the author

Julia Faragher is an artist, specialising in writing, photography, film and design. She is the current Editor-in-Chief at Woroni and makes films at Skybound Productions. She was named the Young Canberra Citizen of the Year for Arts and Multimedia 2019.