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Kinky Boots as presented by Ballywillan Drama Group




Gilbert Section


Kinky Boots as presented by Ballywillan Drama Group

Date of Performance Adjudicated: Friday 2nd June, 2023



It is the many layers of Kinky Boots that make it such a compelling piece of musical theatre. On the aesthetic level, it has the glamour and glitz of a Ru Paul Drag Show and a comedic subtext to match La Cage Aux Folles, while at its heart is an emotional drama involving fraught parental relationships, searches for identity, and embracing individuality and diversity. Throw in a smattering of excellent musical numbers, opportunities for creative choreography and an array of colourful and varied characters, and the recipe adds up to a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking theatrical adventure.


Director, Brian Logan, did a good job on realizing the dramatic content of the script, effectively depicting the childhoods of Simon and Charlie, and giving good expression to the ghosts of the past that haunted and stymied the growth of both characters in later life. His set for the show was a strong combination of a solid industrial frame, with appropriate props and furniture to enhance it, and good use of projections to embellish both the factory settings and the showbiz world of Lola and her Angels. Scene changes were well managed by David Wray and his team, augmented by the efficient use of cast members to place props. There was good work in the lighting design to create atmosphere, and with the exception of a few late follow-spot cues, the show was visually well presented. There were some problems with the sound quality, balancing between the strength of the band and the vocalists, and on a few occasions, there were lines missed through late cueing of radio-mics, but it was not so bad as to make a very negative impact on the production. It was more of a niggling irritation. Comedy was very well-realized throughout the show.


There was a heavy-handedness to the musical accompaniment to the show, albeit provided by a very talented band of musicians, under the direction of Andrew Robinson. With a tendency towards in-song crescendos, principals were, on occasion, required to shout to be heard, which slightly impaired the quality of the vocals. Regardless of that, there was strong evidence of very well-rehearsed harmonies and good diction, not just from the principals, but also from a well-disciplined and extremely effective chorus. Whether on-stage or singing in the wings, they made a very pleasing sound, but it was their acting and reacting to the action of the story that was particularly impressive.


Choreographer, Laura Fisher, did a beautiful job on the energy filled full chorus numbers, with the Act One and the Act Two finales being very outstanding. By contrast, the numbers featuring Lola and her Angels were begging to be more ambitious and more flamboyant. Dancing in high heels is no walk in the park, but there was too much reliance on poses and hand gestures, some of which were not really that attractive. Nevertheless, in all their contributions, both the Angels and the chorus gave great energy and commitment to all they were asked to do.


In the very demanding role of Lola/Simon, Alan McClarty was brimming with energy and expression, and also backed up his acting with very secure vocals. He was particularly good in relating his back-story as Simon, displaying good sincerity in his emotions. There were times when there was an awkwardness about his interpretation of Lola, stemming mostly from constrained movement, which didn’t always seem natural, but he was extremely likeable in the role and never lacked commitment to the character.

Adam Goudy, similarly, displayed good sincerity in his acting, and delivered a believable conflict of emotions in the role of Charlie Price. There was a tendency for his singing to be a bit shouted, competing with the strength of the band, despite his good vocal ability, but this was a reliable and competently realized role.


Chloe Freeman-Wallace, as Lauren, gave the performance of the show. At all times, relaxed and confident in her character, her delivery of her lines and the physical and visual presentation of her comedy were hilarious and outstanding. Vocally secure in her music, this really was a top-drawer characterization.

As Charlie’s girlfriend, Nicola, Lindsay Nelson was perfectly cast, and gave a delightful performance, being sincere in her affection yet stubborn enough to miss what really mattered to Charlie. She also displayed good vocal quality.


Stevie Black made a very good impression as the homophobic misogynist, Don, while also convincingly showing his softer side and a willingness to be more accepting of diversity as the story progressed. He was a strong character with good attitude throughout.

Jim Everett gave a wonderful, old-school performance of the dedicated factory manager, George, stoic in his dedication to the company, yet flexible enough to embrace change. A very nicely portrayed character.

Úna Culkin, as Trish, was similarly stoic and loyal to the company, and rightly aggrieved by her rough treatment at the hands of Charlie, but warm in her forgiveness. A lovely performance.

Equally secure and convincing performances were given by Vicky Hogg as Pat and Clare Campbell as Marge.

Patrick Connor gave a good account of himself in the role of Harry, alongside Tom Waddell as the delivery man. Tom also made an impression as the decidedly unpleasant father of Simon. Harry Stinson was a believable and caring father figure as Mr. Price, while Steven Millar was a convincing and officious Richard Bailey. Lesley Reynolds gave an amusing cameo performance as the Milan Fashion Show Stage Manager.

Grant O’Neill, Aaron Kennedy, Jack Graham, Sam Ingamells, Adam Campbell and Adam Mullan impressed greatly as Lola’s Angels, full of swagger and charisma. With good costumes and hairstyles and good attitude, each looked completely at home in their drag personas, and I only wished that they had been given more challenging and dynamic routines to highlight their abilities. It was a pleasure to meet and have a good laugh with them after the show.


The children who played Young Charlie and Young Lola also made the most worthy and impressive contribution to the show.



As well as a nicely painted set, incorporating well-created small framed stained glass, and good industrial girders and machinery, the look of the production was enhanced by good costumes, particularly, but not exclusively, on Lola and the Angels. The many pairs of boots for the finale were fabulous and well-worn. The factory workers looked just right in their overalls, and the principals were all suitably and effectively attired. The standard of the wigs and the make-up was very high, especially the fabulous work done on Lola and those Angels.

The show was visually very appealing.


This is not an easy show to get just right, but Ballywillan should be commended for taking on such a challenging show and presenting it to a standard that sent the audience home well satisfied. It was such a pleasure to get my new season as adjudicator off to such an enjoyable start, in the company of so much talent. Sincere thanks to all.


Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator.



Some additional photos shared by the society:











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