In Philip Gandey’s experience, the further north he takes this show, the more the audiences love The Lady Boys of Bangkok. They get their biggest welcome in Newcastle and are such hit at the Edinburgh fringe that they’ve now got their own tartan for the grand finale.
The Lady Boys of Bangkok at the Sabai Pavilion, Derby
Derby too is taking them to its heart with the latest incarnation, Fur Coats and French Knickers. There’s a Big Top and nightclub atmosphere in the Sabai Pavilion, which pulsates with music. It’s a show full of paradoxes, not least that despite all the sexiness and raunchiness, there’s a kind of innocence and wistfulness about the Lady Boys that is perhaps the most endearing thing about them.
This isn’t high-kicking chorus line stuff. The choreography is more disco than anything and the showgirls are not all natural dancers. Lip-synch is a necessity for all the numbers. But it’s the sheer glamour and impudence that carry the show and make it such a stormingly good evening, coupled with the inevitable curiosity that surrounds the troupe.
Impersonations of Jordan and Lady Gaga go down a storm, as does the strip scene from The Full Monty (but no nudity). Sometimes it’s almost panto as they drag audience members up on to the stage or feature the Bendy Man who can get his entire body through a tennis racket. The audience goes wild for numbers like YMCA and It’s Raining Men. What it comes down to in the end, though, is that they’re all just so beautiful.