Introspective, pained, gritty – these are the adjectives that are often bandied around nowadays in praise of new hard-hitting, meditative plays. The world seems to be getting more and more serious, and our arts, serving to some extent as a reflection of reality, have naturally started heading down the same gloomy route.

But who says the theatre can’t be thought-provoking and fun? The cast and crew of Kinky Boots certainly don’t. This production is jam-packed with show-stopping numbers, rip-roaring dance sequences and, of course, glitter and glamour galore. The plot follows the life of Charlie Price (Joel Harper-Jackson), the son of a Northampton shoe factory owner, as his attempts to break away from his family’s legacy are complicated by tragedy. He is abruptly thrown into the deep end in being appointed the factory’s reluctant new boss, and is eventually faced with the choice between an easy but lucrative escape, and a bejewelled moonshot that could save the business.

The first act soars by, the songs combining melody and meaning perfectly, with ‘Take What You Got’, ‘Everybody Say Yeah’ and ‘The History of Wrong Guys’ all fitting the Disney, or The Greatest Showman, mould that is currently in such a purple patch. Joel Harper-Jackson and Kayi Ushe provide stunning vocals, their on-stage chemistry elevating the production with every twist and turn. The latter adorns ‘Land of Lola’ with triumphant sass and charm, but then reduces the self-assured strut to an anxious tip-toe in the most moving moment of the play, a duet with Harper-Jackson on ‘Not My Father’s Son’. It would have been easy to overdramatise the part of Lola, but Ushe carries the persona with elegance, lacing each line with the acerbic wit and charisma that makes the character such a crowd favourite.

The humour that pervades the plot is well judged throughout, perhaps pushing the line a little too much in its stereotyping of transvestites as less sophisticated than drag acts, but generally giving the audience plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Act two is just as effervescent as the first, with Harper-Jackson leaping from scene to scene with the energy and stamina of a Jack Russell terrier. His buoyancy matches the breakneck pace of the plot, keeping us invested in the story, yet the play benefits from the respite offered by the aforementioned low lights of ‘Not My Father’s Son’. The momentum is then built back up, before reaching boiling point when Charlie finally cracks on the heart-rending ‘Soul of a Man’, emphasising the versatility of Harper-Jackson’s performance.

The staging is slick, with the pizzazz being tempered by inventive lighting, particularly during the slow-mo boxing match between Lola and Dan, preventing the glitz from sliding into tackiness. The costumes are, of course, unforgettable, with the runway finale being the cherry on top of an already rich and extravagant cake. There are moments where the plot jumps a little too suddenly from harmony to sharp divisions in the factory, and back again. Equally, some of the songs feel a tad twee, and more High School Musical than The Greatest Showman. But make no mistake, this play is full of feel-good fun, sugarcoating a poignant message. When Lola encounters the narrow-minded Don, who ridicules the drag act and zeroes in on Lola’s lack of self-confidence when dressed as a man, they end up agreeing to set each other a challenge. Don asks Lola to compete in a fight with him, while Lola asks for just one thing – “Accept someone for who they are”. What better cri de coeur to champion during LGBT History month?