Matt Henry: 'I'm still in knee-length boots in my new role'
The ex-Kinky Boots star on his new role at Shakespeare's Globe and what life is like after Lola
Matt Henry has had an extensive career onstage in musical theatre, starring in The Lion King, Miss Saigon and Kerry Michael's production of The Harder They Come. In 2015 he was cast as drag queen Lola in Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein's Kinky Boots, a role for which he won an Olivier Award. Last year he announced he was leaving Kinky Boots, and was promptly awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Year's honours list. His most recent role is at Shakespeare's Globe in Barrie Rutter's staging of The Two Noble Kinsmen, a play by both Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Here he explains why there are surprising similarities about the play and Kinky Boots.
I'm still in boots for The Two Noble Kinsmen, but not high heels. I'm wearing long knee-length black boots! I couldn't pass up the chance to be back at the Globe. This role of Pirithous is very different to Lola in Kinky Boots, who is very glitzy-glamour. Working with Barrie [Rutter, the director] is a bit similar to working with Jerry Mitchell [who directed Kinky Boots]. They talk about painting pictures for the audience.
The story of The Two Noble Kinsmen is a bit bonkers. It's written by John Fletcher and Shakespeare and essentially it's a love story where two men, cousins and best friends, end up falling in love with the same girl. They get to a point where they are prepared to kill each other for her. And she agrees! But there's a twist at the end.
Doing Shakespeare at the Globe is a very special experience. There are actually points in the play where you're looking to the Gods, and so having thunder and lightning at the same time is a beautiful experience. I was here ten years ago, but not in a Shakespeare play. The people are right at your feet, and could literally reach out and touch you. It's a wonderful experience.
I never trained in morris dancing. But there is morris dancing in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Barrie is a big fan of morris and folk, which is why we have Eliza Carthy doing the music. Morris is a new string to my bow and we have a morris coach who puts us through our paces.
I miss Lola. It's a fantastic part and I only wish there were more black, male, lead roles in the West End. But it was the right time to leave and to give someone else a go. I have heard Simon [Anthony Rhoden] is doing a great job.
Getting an MBE was the cherry on top of the cake. I was awarded an Olivier, and then I decided I was leaving Kinky Boots, and then what a moment to learn that someone had actually taken the time out to submit me.