Actor struts home in Kinky Boots musical at the Sunderland Empire

A Sunderland-born actor has made his debut on his home stage – while dancing in six-inch heels.

By Katy.Wheeler
Friday, 28 June, 2019, 16:45
Sunderland actor Chileshe' Mondelle on tour with Kinky Boots production

Chileshé Mondelle, 22, developed a love of musical theatre at Kathleen Knox School of Dance where he honed his skills before winning a much-coveted scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey.

He spent three years perfecting his craft at the prestigious national school and impressed producers from hit musical Kinky Boots so much they offered him a role before he’d even graduated.

Chileshé Mondelle, bottom right, in Kinky Boots

As one of Lola’s Angels he performs eight times a week in flamboyant outfits and six-inch heels in the show, which tells the story of an ailing Northampton shoe factory whose fortunes are turned around by six-foot drag queen Lola and her need for sturdy stilettos.

Although he’s been on tour for almost a year, this is the first time Chileshé has played his home city.

“Kinky Boots is such a fun show to be in but it gives me even more of a thrill performing when I know my friends and family are in the audience,” he explained back stage at the Empire.

Based on true events, the award-winning musical features a score by Cyndi Lauper and has been receiving rave reviews for its feelgood factor.

Sunderland actor Chileshe' Mondelle on tour with Kinky Boots production

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Chileshé, who grew up in Roker, said: “It’s gets such a great reaction from the audience, especially the finale where we wear the six-inch heels – which took a while to get used to dancing in. It’s very rare we get a reserved audience, they are up dancing every night.”

The former St Aidan’s pupil is one in a string of successful musical theatre performers from Sunderland, such as Ben Forster from Millfield who found fame winning ITV’s Superstar in 2012 before starring in Jesus Christ Superstar, Elf and Phantom of the Opera.

Other notable performers from the area include former Thornhill School pupil Gary Watson who’s appeared in everything from Cats to Les Misérables and fellow alumni Michael Pickering who’s appeared in shows including Jersey Boys.

*Kinky Boots is running at Sunderland Empire until July 6. Tickets from Tel: 0844 871 3022. Read our review of the show here.

Sunderland actor Chileshe' Mondelle performing at the Empire for the first time
Chileshe' Mondelle backstage at Sunderland Empire
Chileshe in Kinky Boots