Here come The Ladyboys!

GALWAY AUDIENCES are in for a treat next week when The Lady Boys of Bangkok come to the Town Hall Theatre with their new show, Red Hot Kisses.

In this sizzling and seductive production you will feel the temperature soar as the stars burn up the stage in a fiesta of fun and frolics. Red Hot Kisses features 16 of Thailand’s most beautiful and intriguing lady boys, performing a show like no other.

Lady Boys, or kathoeys as they are also called, are common in Thailand and can be either a transgender person or an effeminate or cross-dressing gay man. Some lady boys undergo medical procedures such as breast implants or hormone treatment to heighten their femininity while others use make-up but dress as men.

Lady Boys are sometimes described as a third sex and there is much more tolerance of them in Thai society than would be the case in western Europe.

“In my country kathoeys are like a third sex and they are accepted,” Lady Boy Sak, a cast member of Red Hot Kisses, tells me. “Thai people understand those who are born to be like that.”

In Thailand, lady boys work in traditional female occupations such as shops and beauty salons and also in the entertainment industry. A number of popular Thai actors and singers are lady boys and the newspapers there often afford coverage to lady boy beauty contests.

Sak has been with the ensemble since their first tour in 1998. He is an accomplished actor and cabaret director. Hugely popular in Bangkok, he has also built up a large following in Britain through his appearances with The Lady Boys.

The Lady Boys of Bangkok have been bringing their shows to Britain for the past 16 years and have become one of the most popular touring cabaret shows on the circuit, taking their truly unique style of entertainment to eager audiences the length and breadth of that country.

However, the Ladyboys’ forthcoming tour to Ireland will mark only the third occasion they have toured here, while the Town Hall show will be their debut Galway performance.

With more than 200 specially designed lavish costumes – everything from fabulous feathers to designer-inspired couture – Red Hot Kisses offers an eclectic mix of musical genres including movie hits, superstar pop favourites, and a dash of country and western added to keep the party glowing.

With more songs and production numbers than you could shake your hips to, the hits range from Moulin Rouge to Flash Dance and Grease. Then, at the blink of a mascara’d eye, the pace changes as they glide through their unique Lady Boys of Bangkok tributes to the likes of Kylie Minogue, Amy Winehouse, and Robbie Williams.

“Every year we change the musical numbers,” Sak reveals. “Our fans like to see new numbers and new costumes. The acting, singing, and choreography are all very strong and the show has been very popular throughout the UK since we first started touring there in 1998 – they keep inviting us back, which is great!

“We have everyone from teenagers to people aged 60 or 70 in our audiences and they all really like our performances. Hopefully Irish audiences will also now enjoy the show.”

Red Hot Kisses’ producer Carol Gandey says the continued appeal of the Lady Boys lies in their show’s ability to renew itself every year.

“Our dancers, choreographer, set and lighting designer were given the ideas for the new show as soon as last year’s show opened,” she says. “The new show has been 12 months in the making. It is infused with the topical comedy, surprises, and satire that only the Lady Boys can deliver.”

Once the curtains go up and the lights go down, the full glamour, glitz, and glory of the fabulous Lady Boys of Bangkok is unleashed as they launch into their colourful, sexy, performances with their brilliantly stylised humour that is cheeky but never crude. Among the highlights in the Red Hot Kisses’ revue is a medley of famous movie songs, a comical take on Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’, The Village People’s perennial favourite ‘YMCA’ and The Weather Girls’ ‘It’s Raining Men’.

There is also lots of laughter generated from those parts in the show where The Lady Boys venture into the audience to interact with patrons. It all adds up to a hugely entertaining show, as the critics agree.

The British Theatre Guide said it is “an irresistible, irrepressible evening that guarantees a great night out!” while the Edinburgh Guide declared “The Lady Boys Of Bangkok are simply the best cabaret floor-show you will see at the Fringe or anywhere else, they are simply fantastic!” and the Derby Evening Telegraph called the show “Escapism, lots of fun....one of the best value for money nights out money can buy”.

The Lady Boys of Bangkok play the Town Hall Theatre on Thursday November 20 at 8pm. Patrons are advised that the show is produced for an adult audience and that under 16s are not permitted.

Tickets are €25 and available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie Let the party commence!

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