Life is better with glitter. Kinky Boots has it in bucket loads, but it’s not just about the glitz. This show has a profound and beautiful message, tenderness, compassion – and resounding, uplifting joy.

None of this is any secret. The show has been touring internationally since its inception in 2012 and is based on the film Kinky Boots, which was inspired by real life events. I went to the launch several months ago, knowing almost nothing about it, other than Cyndi Lauper was involved. Two numbers and a couple of interviews in and my appetite (to see the full show) was whetted. This isn’t a vehicle for a famous musical artist’s words and tunes – which by the way are foot stompingly good. Lauper’s score is a mixture of singalong numbers and musical theatre sung through segments. The ballads are not easy to sing, but in the hands (or rather vocal chords) of experts, they produce the stunning results that only more complex compositions can achieve.

There’s a lot of glorious drag going on, with fabulous costumes and astounding dancing. The production values are as high as the heels in which the cast dance, but even if the budget was stripped, this would still be a moving and feelgood piece. The themes of inclusivity and allowing people to be who they are without judgment, is sensitively and strongly conveyed, peppered with frequent laugh out loud moments. But, let’s talk about Lola. Played by the supremely talented Callum Francis during the first part of this run, she is the star of the show. Francis brings light and shade to the role of the drag queen, having us in fits of laughter one minute and tears the next. Through her we see into the world of cross dressing, but moreover into a father and son relationship, where paternal expectations and human reality don’t match up. The other main character Charlie (Joel Harper Jackson), has a parallel journey with his own late father. The two unite their differences with their similarities, as Charlie attempts to rescue the brogue factory he’s inherited, by making flamboyant Kinky Boots, with Lola’s help. Harper Jackson is a fairly bland, but competent lead, and the cast is mainly very strong, especially Lola’s ebullient ‘angels’.

Photo courtesy of Matt Crockett

Kinky Boots runs at Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 5th January 2019.