When Liz asked if I would like to accompany her to the Lady Boys of Bangkok Gala Night, I believe she actually put her fingers in her ears, such was the high pitched nature of my excited shriek. Having always wanted to see a Lady Boys show, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up, and it's safe to say my excitement reached fever pitch as I donned my sequin jacket (a nod to the evening's moniker - Glamorous Amorous) and we made our way to Old Trafford football ground.
The Lady Boys have brought their own brand of glamour to Old Trafford's car park, as the Sabai Pavilion includes an outdoor seating area with bamboo screens, exotic shrubs in urns and various stone deities which makes for an authentic Thai experience, particularly as you get a delicious waft of Thai food from the pavilion's own kitchen. This is where Liz and I set up camp before the show, feeling that a bottle of Prosecco was clearly the only appropriate way to toast the occasion. Basking in the early evening sun with a glass of sparkle, the drone of traffic on Sir Matt Busby Way was pleasantly drowned out by summery pop tunes, and we could easily forget we were in a car park, which was particularly amusing when a friend commented on our check-in, saying he was in ACTUAL Bangkok...
With the show about to commence, we whisked up our bottle of fizz (rather too hastily I might add, resulting in the unfortunate sloshing of Prosecco into a Louboutin) and made our way into the main marquee, set up with large cabaret-style tables arranged around the stage. When an event official moved us closer so we wouldn't have our view obscured by the queue for the bar, we found ourselves right at the foot of the stage, and by turns, involved in the action. A mild warning: if you do find yourself close to the stage, be prepared, as the Lady Boys enjoy a bit of audience participation, which is always in good humour and actually, rather fun when you find yourself at the head of a conga train on the Way to Amarillo.
The performance opened with an energetic J Lo piece, and we were instantly impressed with the costumes, the choreography, and the convincing way in which the Lady Boys absorbed the mannerisms of the stars they were emulating. This continued throughout the show, where the ensemble-piece-alternated-with-individual-performance format allowed for seamless set and costume changes, and a much-needed rest for the dancers as they ratcheted up the energy and glitz throughout the first half. During the interval it became evident my sequinned jacket was woefully inadequate when compared with the Lady Boys' impeccable standards of grooming. The second half of the performance was one crowd pleaser after another, a mixture of modern and classic pop with some of the Lady Boys' own creations, including their interpretation of 50 Shades of Grey, all of which were delivered with professionalism and panache, and tongues firmly in cheeks. And this is what makes the Lady Boys so enjoyable - the performances are cheeky but not crass, titilating but not tacky, and just very good fun. This is demonstrated in no better way than by a glance around the audience - no other stage performance could surely lay claim to such a diverse demographic.
I thoroughly enjoyed all bar one of the individual performed pieces, which was a tribute to new mothers to the tune of Fairtytale of New York, which I found to be in poor taste. Highlights for us were Nicki Minaj's Starships, Tina Turner's Simply the Best, and an individual rendition of My Way, where the Lady Boy started out dressed as Shirley, and finished the song as Sinatra. We agreed it was brilliant and very moving, even threatening to bring a tear to the eye and a goosebump to the flesh. A special mention should also be given to the male performers, who embodied their stars so well, particularly as Pitbull and Ne-Yo during Give Me Everything, which really revved up the audience. The show finished with a spectacular ensemble piece to Whitney's I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and by this time, the excitement proved too much and we abandoned any thought of maintaining our glamorous composure, instead kicking up our heels in the aisle.
So what of the Lady Boys themselves? Well, they are remarkably entertaining performers, and astonishingly beautiful. One has to applaud a show that places the girls at the heart of it, even down to a whole page in the souvenir brochure dedicated to make up tips and the value of contouring. Did I try to re-create Lady Boy-worthy cheekbones when facing the post-Prosecco haze of the following day? Of course I did. Even the toilets in the Sabai Pavilion have the ladies in mind, with double the number of female to male, and a sign commanding the gents to go around the back...well, if you insist.
And I insist that you purchase your ticket to see the Lady Boys of Bangkok in Glamorous Amorous immediately, if not sooner. It is magnificently glamorous, and I am entirely enamoured with them. They will be dazzling Manchester for another week, before moving the tour on to Wales and Scotland - full details can be found here.