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Actor Spotlight: Jennifer Perry of ‘Kinky Boots’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Jeryl Brunner |


Jennifer Perry plays Trish, a longtime and devoted Price and Son shoe factory employee in Kinky Boots on Broadway. In 2013 she originated the part in the show which won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. 

Jen Perry

Jen Perry in 'Kinky Boots'

What do you love about doing Kinky Boots
Jennifer Perry: I didn’t get on Broadway until I was in my early forties. I did a lot of shows out of town. I originated the part of Rosie in Mamma Mia in Vegas. Then six or seven years later, they needed an immediate replacement for the part of Rosie on Broadway. I learned the part in five days and went back in. 

So my Broadway debut wasn’t until much later in life, after I had a child. It meant a lot to me to originate a part in a Broadway show like Kinky Boots. When we were developing the piece it was very collaborative.  I put a lot of myself into the part. At one point six companies around the world were doing the role the way I designed it. That’s exciting. And of course the message that Kinky Boots gives to everybody, about love and acceptance, also means a lot to me. 

Trish is also such a great character. 
JP: I love Trish because she has a full journey in Kinky Boots. She goes from being wary of Lola, the drag queen. But by the end she accepts Lola. Trish is also sort of a mother figure to Charlie because she’s known him his whole life. She truly loves him. I get to be very funny and very serious. I have a great acting moment with Charlie in the show. For a comedian like me, those parts are few and far between. 

Why do you think the show has been on Broadway for so long? 
JP:
It’s so timely. It’s about not judging somebody by their appearance, but what’s underneath. The show opens people’s eyes. Maybe they’ve never seen a person in drag. But by the end, they accept it. They’re standing up in their seats. Also, the show is about fathers and sons, which is so relatable.

Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco just finished his run as Charlie in his Broadway debut. What was it like having him in the cast? 
JP:
I’ve never experienced that sort of fandom. His fans are so loyal. People would wait for him for hours and also for us. We felt like rock stars. We miss him very much. But we also love Andy Kelso who plays Charlie now. He is an original company member. 

Do you remember the first time you performed when you were little? 
JP: The first show I did was when I was six in grade school in Michigan.  The show was Tom Sawyer and I had one line that I sung:  “Who brung the lemonade?” That was my very first line in any show. But even before then my older sisters tell me that I was acting for years in the living room. Or they would put me on top of the kitchen table and make me perform for everybody. Apparently, I’ve been doing this my whole life.

How inspiring that you didn’t get to Broadway until you were in your forties. What kept you going in your career? 
JP: I had a feeling that someday, if I didn’t give up, it would happen. Also, I always had jobs performing. I did Nunsense off-Broadway for three years. I knew Broadway was going to come if I just didn’t give up.

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