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Matt Henry joins the cast of The Devil Wears Prada musical in London’s West End

Exclusive: The actor, singer and MBE tells Attitude that the show is 'fun, exciting, nostalgic, camp and hilarious'

By Simon Button

Composite of Matt Henry and Vanessa Williams
Matt Henry and Vanessa Williams are to star in The Devil Wears Prada in London's West End (Image: Matt Crockett)

Actor Matt Henry has joined the cast of the musical version of The Devil Wears Prada alongside Vanessa Williams, promising audiences are in for “a fun, exciting, nostalgic, camp and hilarious night”.

Revealing in an exclusive interview with Attitude that he’s been cast as Nigel in the upcoming show, the actor, singer and MBE adds: “I couldn’t be more excited. It’s an iconic character in an iconic story, starring Vanessa Williams, with music by Elton John.”

Dressed in a fantastic Dolce & Gabbana creation for the video announcement, Matt feels the underdog story appeals to LGBTQ+ theatregoers because “it’s about the cream rising to the top and getting their moment, it’s about empowerment and integrity, and of course it’s about glamour as well”. As for his D&G outfit, he beams: “It’s amazing. We were like ‘It has to be camp and classic’. I hope when audiences come to see the show that they dress up accordingly.”

The Devil Wears Prada coming to London’s West End this year

The musical is based on Lauren Weisberger’s semi-autobiographical 2003 novel and the 2006 film starring Meryl Streep as Miranda Preistly, editor-in-chief at Runway magazine, and Anne Hathaway as Andy Sachs, a wannabe journalist who lands a job there as Miranda’s junior assistant. Elton has written the score for the stage adaptation, which has lyrics by Shaina Taub, a book by Kate Wetherhead, and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell.

Opening at London’s Dominion Theatre in October after a preliminary run in Plymouth in July, the show reunites Matt with Broadway legend Mitchell, whose directorial credits include revivals of Gypsy and La Cage Aux Folles and the original Broadway and West End productions of Hairspray and Kinky Boots.

“Nigel’s such an iconic role, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes”

Matt won Olivier and WhatsOnStage awards for playing Lola in the latter, saying: “I had a fantastic time doing that show, prior to which I was a huge fan of the Kinky Boots movies. Then this comes around and I’m a huge fan of The Devil Wears Prada. And, of course, Nigel’s such an iconic role, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes.”

“It’s a Black guy playing him and I can see connections to Edward Enniful and André Leon Talley” (Image: Matt Crockett)

In the movie, the art director of Runway magazine was played by Stanley Tucci. “So this time there’s a different take on the character,” Henry notes. “It’s a Black guy playing him and I can see connections to [former Vogue editors] Edward Enniful and André Leon Talley. I’m drawing inspiration from them to make him even more rounded for a theatre audience. Like me, he’s a married gay man, so I’m tapping into that too.”

“I’m so lucky that I can combine work with family”

Matt is married to Models1 agent Joe Tootal, and they have two children. Their six-year-old son saw him in Kinky Boots. “He came along when we filmed the show at the Adelphi and we’ve just had another new addition to our family who came along to the promotional shoot for The Devil Wears Prada. I’m so lucky that I can combine work with family.”

As for his relationship with fashion, he gushes: “Oh my God, fashion is my passion! I absolutely love fashion. My husband works in fashion, of course, and when he was a model I used to go and watch him in Paris, New York and Milan. I’ve always had that close connection with the industry.”

Birmingham-born Matt made his West End debut in The Lion King in 2002 and has worked steadily both in London and in touring productions. He also competed on The Voice UK in 2013 and released his album ‘Red Flare’ a couple of years later. In 2018 he was awarded an MBE for services to musical theatre.

“She’s phenomenal” – Matt on Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams as Miranda Priestley
“… casting [Vanessa Williams] makes perfect sense. She’s phenomenal (Image: Matt Crockett)

Most recently he’s been touring in The Drifters Girl, which he co-created and in which he starred with Beverley Knight during its West End run. He’s no stranger to working with big names but confesses to being bowled over when he met Vanessa Williams – who stars as Miranda in the musical – at the first Devil Wears Prada read-through. “They kept it a secret but when I walked into the room and saw her I thought ‘Oh my God, of course’ because her casting makes perfect sense. She’s phenomenal.”

Elton John was also at the read-through. “He came over after we sang his songs and he was really appreciative and congratulated us. And that’s what’s so lovely about it. It feels like it’s a collaborative piece. He’s entrusted us with his songs and we’re kind of bringing them alive.”

The Devil Wears Prada is at the Dominion Theatre, London, from 24 October. Get tickets here.