Curtain up on Some Like It Hot, one of the hottest shows on Broadway this season. This fresh and exciting stage adaptation of the classic 1959 film is full of comedic perfection and strikes the right balance of pulling at the heartstrings.
With a book by Matthew López and Amber Ruffin, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and direction and choreography by thee Casey Nicholaw, it’s no wonder this show is as fun and sentimental, as it is layered and dynamic.
Set in Chicago during the prohibition era, Some Like It Hot is a high-energy story of two musicians on the run after witnessing a mob hit. When we meet Joe (Christian Borle) and Jerry (J. Harrison Ghee), they’re looking for a way to disguise themselves and in the process, they join one of the best all-female swing bands in America – but as Josephine (Christian Borle) and Daphne (J. Harrison Ghee) – identities they created for themselves.
The major differences in this adaptation are seen in the change of perspectives and the depth of character development. This production shares stories of self discovery, race, and relationship dynamics as opposed to the archetype of straight men using any disguise to flee a bad situation for comedic gain. To start the all-female band lead (NaTasha Yvette Williams) and lead singer, Sugar Cane (Adrianna Hicks) are both Black women (who give remarkable performances, which are rooted in truth and are equally dazzling) and their band is fully integrated – a concept that would have been (sadly) controversial when the story takes place. A key storyline is the transformation and journey of self discovery for the character of Jerry/Daphne (portrayed by the wonderful J. Harrison Ghee), who explores a complex and beautiful journey – one of both gender and sexual identity and most importantly, authenticity. We had the privilege of sitting down with J. to chat about this sizzling production!
Congrats on the show! Some Like It Hot is the hottest (pun intended) show on Broadway right now! How does this moment feel for you? Both career wise and personally.
It feels amazing to be a part of something so fun and fabulous, and that audiences are responding so beautifully to. It’s been a long time coming and our show has grown in such an incubator that it has been fulfilling to bring it to life and show audiences what we’ve been cooking up. I love that I’ve been able to use my voice in the work, and the collaborative efforts of everyone have paid off.
The cast is PHENOMENAL. And the creative team, my gosh. Casey Nicholaw. Amber Ruffin. Matthew López. Marc Shaiman. Scott Whitman. Can you tell us what it’s been like to bring this story to life with these Broadway superstars attached? It just looks like you’re all loving your lives on stage.
We are having a blast in this show, and getting to honor of working with such heavy hitters is not something I take lightly. Everyone has really worked together in such a beautiful way to make sure that the product we presented to the world is authentic and top notch. We built some incredible trust throughout the process, and everyone remained open to change, no one was so precious about an idea that we couldn’t discuss it and make necessary changes to make our show its best.
Your chemistry with Christian Borle. Enough said – the comic timing, the dancing, the banter. What’s it like working with him every night? I can see the inherent trust and it also feels like there’s a healthy level of boundary pushing as well, which must be exciting for an actor.
Christian Borle is a giving and gracious partner to work with. It was so fun getting to know him and learn how he operates. I definitely trust him, and we find ways to keep pushing each other daily. It really has been like building a relationship with a sibling, much like our characters, and that helps us make the magic we share on stage.
Biggest prankster in the cast? / Who laughs the most in the rehearsal room?
It’s hard to pin point one culprit because there are laughs and shenanigans all around. We really have bonded as a fun-filled cast of characters that gets to play every day, and not just on stage!
How do you feel the show honors the classic film, how is it most different? What can audiences expect?
The show has maintained the feel of the film’s era with the work of Casey’s big MGM dance and direction, Scott Pask’s beautiful Art Deco set, lit by the incredible Natasha Katz, and the luscious Gregg Barnes costumes. It differs in the way we have removed the 1930s lens we would normally see of the times, and just allows these people to be grounded in truth. We aren’t using the tropes of men in dresses to be the humor, rather allowing the entertainment and comedy to come from circumstance.
Jerry / Daphne is such a dynamic role. What most excited you about the part?
What excited me most was the journey that happens throughout the show, and the possibility of sharing that journey with audiences. A mantra I have lived by for the past few years has been “Free yourself, to see yourself”; meaning, you’ve got to give yourself the permission you so desperately seek from others to just be you. Do the things that make you happy and live out loud.
How did you prepare for the role of Jerry / Daphne? Can you tell us a bit about your process and journey for bringing this character to life on stage?
When doing projects, I seek to learn from a character and let that infuse my real life, and Jerry/Daphne has really helped me step into a fuller version of myself. I don’t hesitate to make bolder choices in life and I take very opportunity to be free. I also try my best to trust my instincts and not over think choices when preparing for a role. It also helps to be creating this character opposite some incredible humans, and that really helps flesh out the character for me.
Is there anything portraying Jerry/Daphne that has taught you anything about yourself?
I have learned I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. I’ve also learned to walk more confidently in my authenticity as a non-binary person, I find so much joy in the fluidity of who I am and the power I possess. It has been empowering to inspire others to tap into the same for themselves.
What is the number one thing you hope audiences take away from seeing Some Like It Hot?
I hope that audiences walk away with joy and confidence, joy in the love and little things in life and the confidence to be free beyond societies labels and limits; whatever that may mean for your life. It’s amazing what we can find in ourselves when circumstances present us with opportunities to explore and think differently.
That’s all the evidence you need – run, don’t walk to the Shubert Theatre and to get tickets to this scorching hot production! For more information, visit: https://somelikeithotmusical.com/