KINKY BOOTS – Understudy Craig Thomas takes on the role of Lola
January 23, 2017  //  By:   //  Blog  //  Comments are off

2017 is the year that I plan to do my best to bring understudies to the forefront of theatre. If I can get to see a show when an understudy is performing, then I intend to write about it because it can be a thankless task, for a performer to take on a leading role in a theatre show, only for it to pass by unnoticed by press and media outlets (unless there is a newsworthy story like when the press flocked to see Natasha J Barnes understudy the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl when Sheridan Smith took an unexpected break from the role).

Knowing Matt Henry was on holiday last week, I decided to go along and see Craig Thomas take on the role of Lola, the fabulous transvestite, who helps Charlie (played by the incredible David Hunter) save his failing shoe factory by helping him create a new range of shoes for a range of men (drag queens). Craig plays the role fantastically and really looks the part as Lola. Matt Henry has been playing the part since it first opened in the West End back in 2015 and so I was nervous to see someone else play the role on stage but Craig was equally as talented and able to deliver the sassy character and raise the audience up.

It was lovely to see the Adelphi Theatre packed out on a Wednesday afternoon, showing that even though Kinky Boots is in its second year in the West End, the show is still thriving in ticket sales. I entered the TodayTix lottery to try to get cheap tickets but wasn’t lucky enough to get them that day so I bought a cheap £20 ticket in the Upper Circle and was surprised to see how busy it was! Also, the view from up there was surprisingly good and the stage design really lends itself to the view from afar. Definitely not a bad place to sit if you don’t want to shell out more than £20-£30 for a ticket.

Also performing that day in a cover role was James Ballanger who played the role of small-minded factory worker Don (understudying Alan Mehdizadeh) who is encouraged to think differently about how he perceives people in life. James was brilliant in the role and there was something about his performance that really showed me the character of Don in a light that I hadn’t seen before. Bravo!

In slightly smaller roles, Simon-Anthony Rhoden played development manager Richard Bailey who tries to get Charlie to turn the factory into a block of apartments and Jason Winter as Charlie’s friend Harry.

Kinky Boots is camp, fun and everything a hit musical should be. Despite having seen the show several times, the hairs on the back of my neck still gave a standing ovation at the end of this feel-good show and went to show that great performances are great performances whether from the leading actors or understudies.

Kinky Boots is playing at the Adelphi Theatre until 6 May 2017. Book tickets