Sunday, 7 August 2016

CD Review: Kinky Boots (Original Broadway Cast Recording 2013)

“Charlie from Northampton, meet Simon from Clapton”

There is something undoubtedly ironic about a show set in Northampton opening on Broadway before it took its bow on the West End but such it was for Kinky Boots, birthed on the Great White Way with a book by Harvey Fierstein and a Tony-winning score from Cyndi Lauper. And it was that cast that got to release their album first, unleashing Lauper’s joyous songs onto the public.

Unfortunately, they also unleashed some atrocious accents onto us as well. They may have passed a more forgiving (or unaware) US public but to British ears, there’s no hiding from how awkward it sounds at so many points across the disc. Especially now that we have a West End recording available, I’d struggle to recommend this version for any real reason.

Perhaps that’s unfair, for it is well sung in the most part – Annaleigh Ashford captures much of Lauren’s comic ungainliness is ‘The History of Wrong Guys’ and Billy Porter nails all the swaggering confidence and pizazz of drag artiste Lola but for me, Stark Sands’ Charlie never quite gets it right (the comparison with Killian Donnelly’s expert performance too easy to make and too hard to ignore).

And musically it still shines, tracks like ‘Everybody Say Yeah’, ‘Raise You Up/Just Be’ and ‘What A Woman Wants’ are vibrant crowd-pleasing upbeat numbers, and there’s heartfelt beauty too, whether in ‘Not My Father’s Son’ or ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’. It’s just that the West End do it better for once.

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