Broadway Vs West End: Kinky Boots Theatre Review

Hey, blog readers; can I let you in on a little secret?

If I’d had any talent (or a genuine like of being centre of attention for more than an aptly timed one-liner or witheringly sarcastic comment), I would have been a theatre kid. I fucking love it. The music, the atmosphere, the talent. Oh yes.

However, I didn’t and I don’t. I find meetings with my boss awkward and having to talk on my own, uninterrupted, usually ends somewhat . . . weirdly. My mind wanders to strange places; it’s a problem.

So I settle for watching the real theatre kids living their dreams. It’s a fire my mother (a fellow love of theatre and talentless act; sorry, spawner, you know it’s true) stoked in me from a young age and we have a rather impressive collection of shows under our belts.

(But not Hamilton. God: come on, man, have my back on this.)

My Christmas gift to the aforementioned mother (as, although she birthed me without talent, she did still actually birth me) was a trip to Toronto and then New York. Whilst in New York, we could hardly just . . . ignore Broadway. What kind of sacrilegious nonsense would that be?

Aforementioned mother, looking pleased with my musical choice.

And so, as she’s seen most of the shows currently running in NYC (theatre hoe.), it was up to me to recommend Kinky Boots. Which is how I’m now in this admittedly rather strange for me situation:

I have now seen Kinky Boots both in the West End and on Broadway. Or in London and in New York – whichever sounds fancier to you.

My first experience with the wondorous feast for your senses that is the show Kinky Boots was months ago, back towards the beginning of summer, when one of my friends Danilo and I were bumbling around Leicester Square on a Friday night after work. (Because he was my apprenticeship buddy – ie I met him in the “college” side of the apprenticeship – so we were adulting like that.)

We’d done the obligatory Chinatown, forsaken noodles and instead bought the rose shaped ice cream. It was a funny night . . . but we weren’t quite sure where to go from here. When your (very white) friend has thoroughly embarassed you by buying a Chinese hat, wearing it proudly on his head and hugging Pikachu (…okay, so the last one was me. But still.), where more can the night go? Has it not hit a glass ceiling?

Oh, ye of little faith. (Literally no idea what, if anything, I’m referencing there, but it feels like a reference.)

We stumbled across one of those small theatre show boxes, the kind we usually shun in favour of tickets booked online, in advance, on days when it’s far cheaper (because an £80 ticket will then be £20). Tonight, however, we were adults – with paychecks! We could stop by and see what shows were on.

Eagerly giggling like a naughty kid sneaking cookies out of the jar, the man selling tickets gleefully recommended us Kinky Boots. Obviously thinking Dan (who does not look how he acts; he looks like a mature responsible adult and yet, in fact, will randomly drop into soldier style squats and chat up my friend Mustafa while texting his girlfriend) would be uncomfortable. We had no idea what the show was about, took his enthusiasm as a good thing and went.

And it was absolutely bloody brilliant.

However, as talented as the performers on both stages are, I think we now have a rare opportunity to compare the West End performers to Broadway . . . and I will relish the challenge.

Did you prefer West End or Broadway?

100% West End. Let’s get into why.

** Disclaimer: I want to highlight two things before we get into the bulk of this review. First, the performance we went to in New York was on a Wednesday at 2 – so hardly the biggest performance of the night. The actors could have been preserving energy for later. Also, something my mother suggested, is that America is more conservative than the UK – so it may have been toned down compared to what it is in the UK. There were a few minor plot points I did notice seem glided over or not mentioned (like the mini romance between the old dude and Lola) in the US version, so maybe this is true.**

1.The drag queens.

Oh . . . okay, up until this point I’m not sure if you guys know what Kinky Boots is about. Basically: drag queens.

And in London they’re electric. They’re graceful, they’re charismatic and they demand your attention. Every movement is exaggerated (in a good way) and sassy. They don’t walk; they strut. Every time they entered the stage, they dominated it. The drag queens weren’t background; they were the main attraction.

In New York? My mother (who hasn’t seen it before and was enjoying it through new eyes) was sitting there pointing out their completely lack-lustre performances.

First of all, the timing. All the queens were completely out of sync; sometimes they’d be doing different arm movements or dance moves when they were meant to be in unison. Plus, arguably worse, the complete lack of energy and passion.

In all honesty, it looked like a practice. You know before you full-on rehearse a dance, you do a walk-through of it, kind of 30% putting effort into the movements and more getting a feel for where you’re going to be and where . . . this is what that felt like. The queens would stop dancing and literally walk across the stage during some of the dances. At times, it felt like you were in a rehearsal – and at times it looked like you were attending a school play.

Bearing in mind the entire show is about drag queens, this wasn’t great.

We got there early (the theatre was way fuller than this!) but what a pretty ceiling.

2. The accent.

Okay, I completely get that this isn’t the actors’ faults – but their British accents were really bad and completely detracted from the immersion. And they made some parts incoherent. Honestly, a lot of the actors didn’t try – and it worked 1,000 x better. In all honesty, I think having the show being reset (for Broadway) in New York would work. Or just let em have their normal accents. It was just a minor sticking point, but it did slightly take away from the experience and following the story when you couldn’t understand some of what they were saying at certain points.

3. Vocal Talent

Vocal talent on both ends was amazing. With the kind of notes and power all the actors need for the songs, this is one play that you can’t really sub in weak voices for.

Overall, don’t let me fool you, both performances were super enjoyable. Kinky Boots is up there with Book Of Mormon and Wicked as one of my all time favourite musicals – but, in my opinion, it’s something to watch on a Friday or Saturday night . . . and you should come to London for it.

Okay, my beautiful humans, I thank you for making it this far down the post! Have you ever seen Kinky Boots; would you be interested in watching it? Do I have any fellow theatre lovers in the house? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Peace,

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23 thoughts on “Broadway Vs West End: Kinky Boots Theatre Review

  1. Last show I went to on West End was Grease. Dutch friend bought tickets and wouldn’t accept any form of repayment… which was good because the price of my seat was probably similar to my hotel room for about 4 days.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. British artists are extremely talented. Even the buskers in London were high quality. All cities has great talent though that isn’t necessarily mainstream. TV economy can destroy a lot of grassroots culture

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We are the SAME person! lol. I LOVE theatre. Adore theatre. Have loads of actor and dancer friends…..But I can;t sing or act worth shit…THUS why I have loads of theatre friends.
    I actually saw Kinky Boots a couple years ago with the original (Broadway) cast and it was amazing! I do find Matinees to be a lot less lackluster, which is why I try to avoid them (except Lion King, Lion King they go all out, no matter what time of day, hell they even rock out on the subway!) I would LOVE to see a performance on the West End. It is a dream! Some day….Soon! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES GIRL YES! It’s okay – we can claim our talents lie in the writing; we write the scripts and they perform them😉

      Oooooh you’re so lucky! I think the original guy that played Charlie (stark sands or something like that) is back in it now and his voice is amazing! I agree with that to be honest … I wish I remembered more of lion king, I’ve been (and remember it being amazing) but it was years ago and I was too young to take it all in😭😭😭 if you’re in London at any point let me know and I’ll take you to one!❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bwahaha oh my gosh I love you! And I LOVE that idea! So true! SO I mean we basically determine whether actors suck or not anyway ;p
        That is awesome! His voice is incredible! You will just have to come back to New York and see it here! 🙂 it really is one of my favorite shows. It is in a league of its own! Yes! I actually am trying to plan a trip to London! I would love that! It would be so much fun! ❤

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    1. Does the acoustics of Defying Gravity in the shower help you hit that final note….asking for a friend 😉 YES YES YES! I didn’t want to be harsh, but as drag queens in Kinky Boots you really can’t afford to be half-assed; it’s noticeable xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. YES YES YES! I’m excited for you; you’ll be converted and love them, trust me. (it’s an expensive hobby though, I can’t lie to you….) and I know – it doesn’t seem to be very talked about (everyone knows about Les Mis or Lion King) but it’s AMAZING xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I tried our for two plays when I was in middle school, I got a few lines and a singing solo (one line lol) and I LOVED but I am also a talentless hack and didn’t get a part in the second play so I just gave it up. Lol.
    I am disappointed that they didn’t give you their best show, it shouldn’t matter what time of day it is or how many performances they have left for the night!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t been to the theatre in quite a while and now I am so ready to go and see some new shows, including Kinky Boots for sure because it looks and sounds amazing! And even if your London experience was better, at least you can say that you have been to both for the sake of sounding fancy :’) Hope you are doing well and enjoying all your travels so far lovely! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooooh if you ever want to watch one in London, just give me a call and I’m there 😀 And yes, I felt very fancy writing that, I can’t lie to you 😉 I am very much, thank you lovely! Crazy behind on blogging….but at least I have a great amount to write about when I finally catch up 😀 xx

      Like

  5. Oh this has made me super excited to see Kinky Boots next week! You can’t beat the Westend hey?! I had a similar experience on Broadway. I saw Mamma Mia there and then saw Mamma Mia in London and I found the London production much cleaner than the Broadway version.

    Like

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