Although it's been a firm favourite at
the Brighton Fringe for many years now, the Ladyboys of
Bangkok show has now graduated to a full-scale theatre
production and is currently travelling the length and breadth of the
country to introduce a brand new audience to this Far Eastern
A theatre setting, it has to be said,
does not lend itself as well as the more familiar Thai Pavillion tent
in which the show is usually performed. There isn’t the same warm
welcome that usually greets the incoming audience as they make their
way through the foyer and into the main auditorium but, as the lights
go down and the compère
stresses that we are about to witness a show starring 16 male
performers, the excitement is at fever pitch.
As the curtain opens his words are
blown away, as is the audience, because on stage are 11 stunning
“women” and five boy dancers. The illusion is a fundamental part
of the Ladyboys success and is what makes their show so appealing.
The performers mime to music by the original artists and, to be
brutally honest, the lip sync work is not great, but the absolutely
stunning costumes, brilliant lighting effects and energetic
choreography easily compensate for this.
The songs are all either recent
chart-toppers or Karaoke classics and soon the audience is singing
along, but the barrier between stage and audience is never really
broken down and the intimacy of the performance is somewhat
There is a lot of comedy in this year’s
show and some of it is certainly 15+ material. The boys take "Walking
in a winter wonderland" and deliver it back as
"Walking round in women’s underwear", Katy
Perry’s "Fireworks" is given a whole new meaning
and even Victoria Wood gets the Ladyboys treatment with her superb
"I can’t do it" making an unexpected appearance.
Halfway through Act One we are
introduced to the gold- painted Chinese acrobat Sha Bing.
Performing, as the speciality act, for the first time outside his
native country, he displays a strength and power that is quite simply
breathtaking. The audience watch, in stunned silence, as, on a metal
pole, he lifts himself high above the stage to perform jaw-dropping
feats of the most amazing strength and dexterity.
The parade of divas includes Beyoncé,
Lady Gaga, Shirley Bassey and Cher, with the boy dancers
treating us to Olly Murs and Ricky Martin. The tempo and party
atmosphere are kept high with hits by Steps, Gloria Gaynor and The
Weather Girls paving the way for the boys to return with The Village
People’s "Y.M.C.A". After a quick change they
return with a Queen medley before we head to Rio for the Carnival