I have so much respect for anyone who wears heels every day” Kayi Ushe says in his deep, husky voice. “Hats off to them. Oh my God yes.”

Kayi has just taken on the role of Lola, the drag queen in Kinky Boots, an all singing-all dancing extravaganza with morals.

Winner of every major award going, with Olivier and Tony awards coming out of its ears, and three years in the West End under its belt, this is the show to see when it reaches Oxford’s New Theatre next week.

A massive undertaking for Kayi then? “I didn’t think I could do it to start with,” he agrees.

“I’d never worn heels or a dress before, so it has been testing. It’s certainly a challenge to totter around in six inch stilettos every night.

“But the rewards are amazing because you go on that journey with the audience, feel that electricity on stage and then get it back.

“I have to admit though, my favourite part of the night is still putting my trainers on afterwards,” he laughs.

So how did he feel about the transformation? “When they first dressed me up in the boots, dress, wig and make up, I spent half an hour just staring at myself in the mirror, because the metamorphosis was so complete I just didn’t recognise myself.

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“It took me a while to take it all in. It’s a real art form.”

Kayi is in Llandudno in Wales when we speak, as part of the tour, not the first place you’d think of showing a musical about a drag queen in need of new boots who joins forces with an ailing factory in Northampton to help revive the family business.

Quite a specific story-line then? “Yes you wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t a true story,” Kayi agrees. “But it’s actually about friendship and embracing the individual, about finding a way to all live together.

“So it’s really exciting and timely, as well as a privilege, to be taking Kinky Boots around the UK at such a necessary juncture.

“It’s touring the US too, which is probably harder,” he laughs, “but because of its title I think some people expect it to be erotic, when it’s not. It’s a family show.

“And at this time in our lives something like Kinky Boots is so necessary; to look at diversity and help to change the world and change people’s minds.”

So can he see the audience reacting to the show? “Absolutely. Some guys come with their girlfriends and look really uncomfortable to begin with, but by the end the whole audience is up on their feet singing and dancing. It is incredible to behold.

“Other people come up and tell us their personal stories afterwards so it’s great to be part of change

“But finding a balance between the message and the entertainment value is crucial and that’s why the energy of the show is so important. And it is electric,” he promises.

Having opened the tour in Edinburgh in front of 3,000 people, it was a baptism of fire, So how did Kayi find it? “It was such an amazing experience, and the reception has been the same everywhere we’ve been from Newcastle to Canterbury.

“We get so much feedback - Kinky Boots seems to have made people think, so while in London people used to cheer when the cast came on, now they save the big reaction for the end.

“Everyone just goes crazy because it resonates with everyone. Kinky Boots has such a positive message and a really big heart and I love sharing that story every night on stage.”

As for Lola, Kayi agrees that it is an exhausting and overwhelming part to play, but having fallen in love with the musical when he saw it in the West End, he still can’t believe that he landed the lead role. “I want to make sure I play such a massive part to the best of my ability, so I look after myself, because the overwhelming positivity at the curtain call makes it all worthwhile.”

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And with his family coming to Oxford’s New Theatre to see it, the pressure is on. “My dad wanted to be a comedian but he grew up in Africa and didn’t get the opportunity. So he is very proud. I think I’m living the life he would have liked to have lived.

At New Theatre Oxford from next Monday to Saturday. atgtickets.com