When I was a kid growing up in Queens, we never really went to see Broadway shows, but my mom had all of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein albums, so that’s actually how I learned how to sing. The one that I listened to first (and most) was The King and I — I’d sing all the parts — I was Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. I started listening to it when I was four, and I listened to it so much that one day my grandma (who lived upstairs) just came and took the LP off the record player and took it away from me without saying a word. I’d also listen to South Pacific and West Side Story all the time. When the opportunity to write Kinky Boots and work with Harvey [Fierstein] and Jerry [Mitchell] came up, I really wanted to do it, and I went back to those old Broadway albums and used that as my inspiration for Kinky Boots — because how could you not find Rodgers and Hammerstein and Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim inspiring?


This entry first appeared in a Playbill article on June 24th, 2015.