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Kinky Boots as presented by 9 Arch Musical Society


9 Arch Musical Society Galway 

KINKY BOOTS – Town Hall Theatre Galway 

15th - 18th November 2023


Date of Adjudication: 18th November 2023


It was a blustery wet and cold night – so no change in the weather, as I drove to Galway for my first showing of Kinky Boots. And I was looking forward to it so very much.


I was greeted so warmly and with some AIMS committee members in attendance our AIMS President Mr Feargal Cavanagh, our Vice President Mr Gerry Sweeney, and the lovely and very charming lady Annette Cavanagh, Chairperson of 9 Arch Musical Society, who were so effusive in their welcome after a long drive it was really so lovely to be a part of this production’s final performance. The atmosphere in this small but iconic Galway theatre was electric. Front of House was supercharged before, at the interval, and at curtain. It was a special evening for you all and I was so glad to be there. Thank you all for such a wonderful welcome.


The Director of this production was Mr Alan Greaney, and boy did he put on a treat for us. Visually this show was sassy, sexy, sad, and poignant - boy this had it all. There was great work done here with principal characters in exploring some of the more intimate conversations about the past, present, and indeed the future especially between Lola and Charlie. The chemistry worked and there was a tenderness and honesty in this direction which was beautiful. As Lola is highly choreographed, I personally loved the tender softly spoken scenes where Lola, Charlie and others opened up, and indeed, changed. It was done so very well.


Sets were so very good. A two-level set on Stage Right to depict the office scenes of the shoe factory, but very cleverly done was the various other pull-out sets from under the office. Everything from a bathroom / changing room to a bedroom. Very well thought out and clever in both design and movement and it allowed scenes to flow extremely well. Mr Greaney also brought out some great comedy and the casting throughout was excellent. It was obvious that many hours of intense principal part rehearsal had taken place. Very well done all round.


Choreography in this show is of course a huge task. Both for the cast and obviously those who need to choreograph the routines and in Choreographer Jay Molyneux it was absolutely spot on. In fact, I really want to say that routines involving Lola and the Angels were among the best I have ever seen on an amateur stage. They were vibrant, sexy, together, creative without once being over the top in what can sometimes happen with this show. In Lola, and the Angels, I’d happily watch these routines all day such were their accuracy and professionalism. Other scenes involving the ensemble and other principals were also very well done. Charlie in his boots on the catwalk- it is not an easy task to pretend you cannot walk in shoes/heels/boots and especially then to create the falls or trips and I must say it was so very well done even at this level. Bravo Mr Molyneux. A very talented Choreographer. Both your skills and professionalism in working with this show shone brightly.


Musical Director and Chorus Master for this lovely production was Mr Shane Farrell. The orchestra were hidden under the stage and unseen from my seat, but they made a fabulous sound. The music was on tempo, slick and of a high standard by the 7-piece orchestra including Mr Farrell himself on Keyboard. The Ensemble numbers and Lola’s scenes with the Angels and in full diva mode were excellent. Also, I must mention that one of my favourite numbers in the whole show was ‘Not my Father’s Son’ and the accompaniment to this beautifully sung duet between Lola and Charlie was just stunning, allowing the audience to fully concentrate on the lyrics and the teary eyes all around the theatre including my own was a testament to you and your Musical Direction Mr Farrell. Beautifully played. You have a rare talent, and you make the most of it and you enhanced the performance from the company greatly. In contrast, when it was time to move, well they did rock, (!) and every single principal and cast member knew exactly what they were doing musically for all numbers. I knew immediately that they were in very safe hands which I always feel allows the cast to express their characters so much easier when not having to worry about music because they have a good Captain / Conductor in front of them. This was the second show of the day and yes, at the beginning I did sense some tiredness but after “Take What You’ve Got” and especially “Land of Lola” the show was well and truly alight. Very well-done Mr Farrell.


I have already mentioned the sets in part and again I must say what a cleverly worked set it was throughout this show. Different parts of the stage cleverly used to depict a bedroom, changing room, bathroom, Office, Care home, Milan cat walk, the factory shop floor, a bar, the list goes on. Credit to both joint stage managers Chontelle Kenny and Jacqlyn Cronin and all their huge team to put all the sterling work of Set Design by Marsha Fleming and Director Alan Greaney to work on stage. It was excellently executed. Credit also must go to Eugene Finnegan who put a lot of thought and effort into set painting. It was in so many places a work of art and not simply a slap of brown paint on a door. Well done. I have mentioned how the under-office set slid on a hinged wheel like a corner drawer of a table, such was its intricacy and it worked so very well. It gave a surprising amount of space as once we the audience knew where we were, the cast did not have to stay tight to it and this worked very well.

Props were well thought out with lovely attention to detail. The office, bedroom, were extremely well propped and well done to Marsha Fleming and Ester Stupers. Your attention to detail throughout was not unnoticed. Great job.


Lighting design was again by Alan Greaney and Paul Kelly. I did like the lighting especially the big dance routines where the stage was lit so very well, and the dresses and boots literally shimmered. There were some scenes however which could and should have been lit a bit more and were played in a kind of semi darkness and it did at times frustrate me. Most of these scenes were the ensemble acting scenes rather than musical numbers and there were not many, but they still needed to have some light. One simple example is that I only barely made out the Nursing Home Sign and for a moment I had to figure out where she was. Lolas huge number was well spotlit on her - but another little light on the sign backstage left would have looked well. Just a thought.


Sound by Fintan Higgins was super all evening. All dialogue and music were clear as a bell and extremely well heard. Microphones were so good for ensemble singing as I couldn’t see any, but I knew they were there. It was a pleasure to listen to the whole performance without any singular issue regarding sound. This can make such a difference to a show. And here in Kinky Boots it was beautiful throughout.


Costuming, make up, and hair for this production was simply first class. Obviously, the areas where Jay Molyneux on Makeup design, Annie Naggins as make up artist and costuming by Andrew Reddy and Annette Cavanagh could shine was with Lola and the Angels, however it was super throughout. A vision of drag queen excess, super dresses, OTT make up and those boots ( Oh my God those boots !!!) and figures adorning it all. Simply Stunning, I LOVED it all. Congratulations


Charlie Price was played by Niall Caulfield. I really liked Mr Caulfield’s interpretation of Charlie. He was softly spoken especially at first and his frustration at having to take over the family business was evident and well played. A lovely lyrical voice I felt Mr Caulfield took a little while to get into the evening on the night I attended. I do realise that there was a matinee and this is something to always be aware of, however by the time we reached “Take What You Got” with Ensemble and Harry, Mr Caulfield seemed to really hit his stride and he was on his way. The highlight of the performance notwithstanding those beautiful red boots at the end was the duet with Simon was “Not my Father’s Son”. This was simply beautiful, and I congratulate Mr Caulfield on a little piece of magic. Well done. Mr Caulfield’s acting was well played, and I loved his contrast when he finally let his anger shine through towards Simon/Lola. Magnificently done.


Lola/Simon was played by Eoin Mullins. Where do I begin. In one sentence, this performance would have brought a standing ovation at the busiest West End theatre as well as the most popular drag queen venue in Europe such was the quality of Mr Mullins performance. I was simply blown away. SO many moments, such high-quality dancing and movement but the singing was out of this world. Incredible emotion, passion, drama, sassiness and above all sheer confidence when ever LOLA burst on Stage. In stark contrast to our first encounter with Simon, where his shyness and sadness is all too apparent, which leads to that beautiful duet with Charlie which as I mentioned above was stunning. But then Lola appears and Mr Mullins changes completely. A metamorphosis. A tour de force, a Diva in all respects. Lola looked superb in costume. She shone and together with her adoring Angels every number was an experience of fabulous theatre. Mr Mullins’ voice is simply incredible both as Simon and Lola. His command over his breathing at higher register is equally superb whether belting out “Land Of Lola” or emotionally duetting as Simon in “Not my Father’s Son” I was in awe of this performance. Mr Mullins was always totally in character and even when a little wardrobe malfunction happened onstage which was fixed mid routine by one of the Angels, she turned around and said Thank you, exactly as you would onstage in performance mode. Just Brilliant. It was as if it was choreographed! You were magnificent. I also loved the second act Simon. Slowly turning some of the ‘rougher’ lads to why he was whom he was and showing that yes it was OK. His (Simon) moments with Don played by Jay Hall were very moving. Hard to watch in parts as you realise the reality so many faces, but then the changing of hearts and minds towards the end was so well played. I really could go on, but very simply put Mr Mullins, you were incredible as both Simon and most especially as Lola. I will never forget your performance. BRAVO!


The part of Nicola was played by Stephanie Neylon and although not a large part Ms Neylon gave a commendable performance as Charlie’s fiancée. I was so glad that Charlie saw through her plan and that was due to Ms Neylons characterisation. I’m sure that with more stage principal role experience we will see more of Ms Neylon in the future.


Lauren was played by Jessica McDonagh. I loved her character. A comedic actress of high standard. Ms McDonagh’s timing and facial expressions were priceless. The History of Wrong guys was performed so well with a beautiful voice. I’d love to see much more of Ms McDonagh and I am very sure I will. Well Done.


Don was played by Jay Hall and to quote from his bio – he was the Gruff antithesis to the fabulous Lola and boy he did it so well. I loved your changing attitudes as the show progressed. It is not easy to portray this sometimes, but you did it so very well. The Boxing choreography was excellent, and you showed that you knew Simon had let you win. We have a very fine actor here in Mr Hall and this part suited him to a tee. He had his fans among the workers too and Mr Hall’s chemistry with his ensemble cast was very evident and well rehearsed. A great performance.


There are a few smaller parts in the show – some recurring throughout so I’ll mention them now as there’s no such thing as a small part. Pat was played by Roisin Nic Aodhgain. Again, a great actress here and in the ensemble songs with the other workers Roisin was super. A great melodic voice but great acting especially in reactions and interaction with Charlie and Lola/Simon. Sex is in the Heel was memorable -a great number and I really enjoyed your performance throughout.


George played by David Alexander is the loyal employee of the original Mr Price and a sounding board and source of wisdom and support for Charlie. I loved the timber of Mr Alexanders voice. It had an air of authority even though we knew he was a long-time employee of Mr Price and now had to fulfil the same role for his much younger son. A lovely strong assured performer and a great performance. Well done.


Mr Price was played by Michael Hurley. I immediately knew that we were in the presence of a musical and drama stalwart with decades of experience such was the quality and assuredness of his portrayal of Charlies Father, Mr Price. The opening number “The most Beautiful thing” was indeed just that. Beautiful. Soft, emotional and you just knew that he was coming to the twilight of his days – his job done. Only one wish remained- that Charlie takes over. Well done Mr Hurley. You were on but a short while, but you instilled memories of my own, which were a testament to your performance, Thank you.


Harry was played by Mervyn Fahy, and I must say thank you to Mr Fahy because on the evening after the matinee it was his number with Charlie and the ensemble “Take What you Got” that got the show on the right foot so to speak for the rest of the evening. I just loved your performance throughout. Well done Mr Fahy beautiful casting and acting in this role.


Other smaller roles were played very well by Saoirse McCarthy as Milan Stage Manager, Akshay Prakash as Richard Bailey Niamh McSweeney as Trish and Orla Doherty as the Boxing Compere. Well done to you all.


Special mention must be given to Young Charlie Conor Forde and Young Simon Matthew Drysdale. I’m sure and I hope that these young chaps keep performing and treading the boards and your singing acting and dancing in ‘The most beautiful thing ‘was magical. Congratulations boys.



Finally, and yes, I am including them under principal cast because for me they were sensational – LOLA’S ANGELS. OMG, you were out of this world. The costumes, movement, choreography and all-round support to Lola was simply amazing. I am in awe of all of you. Your hair, make up, costumes, sexiness, naughtiness, teasing all of us lucky to be in the theatre. It was a joy to watch you all. Caroline Greaney, David Booth, Katie Bebbington, Leigh Greally, Ollie Cronin, Orla Doherty, Ruth Walsh, Siobhan Flanagan and Tanya O’Brien Reid. Take a bow and I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at your after-show party 😊


To those whom I haven’t mentioned above who were in the Chorus ensemble – you were so very good. The togetherness and camaraderie and quality of your acting, singing inter character reactions was excellent. The glue that knitted the principals together well it was Super Glue.


Congratulations to you all. This show was a powerhouse musical performance. I want to congratulate the whole company for a truly fabulous show. It was kinky, it was sassy, it had sheer brilliant performances, great music, fabulous choreography, great Direction and Musical Direction and a great cast. Well done 9 Arch MS. I loved your show.


Caroline Daly Jones, Sullivan Adjudicator 2023/24


Some photos kindly provided by the society. Photographer: Denis Cavanagh






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