‘Kinky Boots’ Star J. Harrison Ghee Gets Real About How the Musical Changed His Life in the Best Ways

Prepare to “step into a dream where glamour is extreme” when “Kinky Boots” makes its regional and Muny debut June 19-25 featuring 16 Grammy Award-winning original songs by Cyndi Lauper.

We chatted with the star of the show, J. Harrison Ghee, who fabulously portrays Lola in a role he was born to star in.

“This is the show I got my equity card from, and it’s also the first big production I was a part of,” he explains. “But more than any of that, it changed my relationship with my family in the best way. My father is a pastor in North Carolina, so I grew up in church, and this is definitely a journey and experience for us all. The songs ‘Not My Father’s Son’ and ‘Hold Me in Your Heart’ are so close to me in a lot of ways. ‘Hold Me in Your Heart’ is very cathartic. Just singing that song and being able to pour out so much emotion is so fulfilling.”

Ghee joined his first “Kinky Boots” tour several years ago as a swing and Lola understudy. After much hard work, he earned the lead of Lola on that tour. Then he landed the role on Broadway, and now he’ll make his debut at The Muny.

“I have so many friends who have worked there before, and I have friends who grew up in St. Louis, so I’ve heard fantastic stories about The Muny,” he says. “People compare it to summer camp; they say it’s so much fun. When I got the offer for The Muny, one of my friends said to me, ‘Imagine singing “Hold Me in Your Heart” under the stars,’ and that’s when I knew I had to do it.”

Putting a unique spin on Lola is a matter of simply drawing from Ghee’s life experiences.

“I’m a real drag queen outside the show,” he says. “Also with the ‘Not My Father’s Son’ issues and things like that, it’s just a matter of being myself.”

In the process of portraying Lola, Ghee has learned a lot about who he is.

“I’ve learned to get back to my boldness,” he explains. “I had a revelation on tour that I feel in life there’s a moment as a child when you know exactly who you are and what you want out of life, then outside influences get in the way of that. All we’re doing as adults is fighting to get back to that moment of purity and innocence.”

Ghee says The Muny’s version of the show will be very similar to the Broadway musical.

“We’re keeping it as close to the same as we can, but I’ve heard there are new elements based on the stage, and they are also adding new people to fill the stage out since it’s such a large venue,” he says. “This show was 1 degree of separation for me for so many years. Anyone who saw it and knew me said I had to be a part of it. It still blows my mind that it’s come to fruition in such a way.”

Click here for more information and tickets.

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Lauren Healey

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