A Fine Showmance: Kinky Boots Co-Stars Timothy Ware and Eugene Barry-Hill On Life Together, On and Offstage

Playbill Pride   A Fine Showmance: Kinky Boots Co-Stars Timothy Ware and Eugene Barry-Hill On Life Together, On and Offstage
 
As part of Playbill's 30 Days of Pride, husbands and Kinky Boots co-stars Timothy Ware and Eugene Barry-Hill share stories of sharing a life and career. 

Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware
Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware

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Kinky Boots cast members Timothy Ware and Eugene Barry-Hill share everything from a stage to a dressing room to a home. And now as of May they also share wedded bliss. Ware, who is the understudy for Billy Porter in the role of the high-heeled loving Lola, and Hill, who plays Lola's father Simon Sr., decided to get married when Univision took over the Al Hirschfeld theatre and Kinky Boots cast members were given a week-long paid vacation. Now as they approach the 10th anniversary of the day they met while on tour with Jesus Christ Superstar, Ware and Hill will celebrate by performing opposite one another when Ware steps into Lola's flashy footwear Sept. 23-Oct. 5.

Before a recent Friday night show, Playbill.com chatted with the newlyweds about working and living together, their wedding and how they turned their "show fling" into a showmance.

Kinky Boots is not the first time you guys have been in the same cast, right?
Timothy Ware: No, we met in Los Angeles in 2004 while on the Broadway national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.

What did you do on your first date?
TW: Well, it was more of a show fling at first. We weren't sure if there was the possibility of a real relationship or not, but the feelings grew intense very fast, so the last month we were on tour we said, let's plan something to do after the tour ends in order to make sure that this is something real. We decided to take a trip to Hawaii for Valentine's Day. We spent 10 days in Oahu and it solidified that the relationship was more than just a show fling. Was it hard to adjust to having a relationship after the show ended?
Eugene Barry-Hill: That was a concern for us for awhile, but after Hawaii it wasn't much longer than that that Tim decided to move to Las Vegas and live with me for a couple of years. Then we decided to move to New Jersey and pursue Broadway again. He had Broadway dreams, and I also wanted to be back on the East Coast to be closer to my family.

Did you also have Broadway dreams, Eugene?
EH: Well, I had been in the original cast of The Lion King back in '97 and '98 and I was based on the West Coast for many years as an actor. I like West Coast weather, so it was kind of hard for me to make the mental and physical adjustment to moving back to the East Coast, but I felt that it was a good time for us to come back here and then we wound up in Kinky Boots together!

Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware
Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware

What is it like being on stage together every night?
TW: I'm the standby for Billy Porter, and I also swing a few of the ensemble tracks for the factory workers in the show. I'm not on stage every night, but fortunately I get to share a dressing room with Eugene.
EH: So we're together 24/7.
TW: We like each other.

You must! Tim, you understudy Eugene's role as Lola's father Simon Sr. as well, right?
TW: Yes, it's kind of a weird paradox sometimes because I understudy his role, which means I get to play Billy Porter's father, but I also cover Billy Porter. I've gone on for him 53 times so far and I've got 20 more scheduled for September, which means Eugene gets to play my father. So there's a lot of complexities going on in the production for me.

What is it like when you're in separate shows?
TW: At the beginning of our relationship we spent a lot of time apart because we would be doing regional theatre gigs, and I did the Broadway national tours of Mamma Mia! and Dreamgirls. With Mamma Mia! specifically we were away from each other for a year, but I was able to connect him with the merchandise department and whenever he would come out to visit me they would let him work merchandise and he could make a few extra bucks.
EH: That would pretty much pay for my trip.

Does that year help you to appreciate how much time you spend together now?
TW: Oh, most definitely. Our thing is if you want a relationship to work, you have to put the work in to keep it solid and you have to find ways to do that. And you know sometimes time apart for traveling is a good thing because it makes you appreciate each other even more when you're back together. The beautiful thing is that we're both in this business, so we both understand that it sometimes means that you have to take jobs that take you away for a while. I don't want to say it's the same thing because we're not fighting in a war, but it's like a military life in some ways because you get shipped out from one place to another.

Before you met did you mostly date other actors?
EH: For me, prior to meeting Tim I would say that almost all my relationships were outside of the business, because there's the old proverb: "Don't blank where you eat." When I met Tim, though, it was one of the rarest of exceptions and he changed my life in such a meaningful way. I've never been happier. Even though we just got married in May, we've been together 10 years in October. Do you have plans for celebrating your anniversary?
TW: We'll probably be at work!

Do you have any advice for people who are having a "show fling" but want to turn it into something more?
TW: The model that we kind of live by is, "Take it one day at a time." Don't think too far ahead and try to stay present and be honest about what your wants are. You would think that would be easier for an actor because that's what we're supposed to do onstage: be in the moment. But it can be challenging sometimes.
EH: My advice is pretty much the same as Tim's. Be clear about what your wants and needs are and never be afraid to express that to your partner.

Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware on opening night
Eugene Barry-Hill and Timothy Ware on opening night Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

How do you unwind and enjoy each other outside of work?
TW: Most Sundays after the show we usually grab a bite to eat together or we'll go see a movie. We go see a movie just about every week, if not every other week, so that's been our date night. It started when I was doing Mamma Mia! in Vegas. Our dark night was Friday instead of Monday, so every Friday we would go to the movies and with our movie ticket we got a free game of bowling. We did it so much that we eventually bought our own bowling balls and shoes. It's important to have fun and let the show go because if you don't, it will drive you insane. You can't bring the work home. It's too much.

Do you still go bowling often?
TW: We haven't been in a few months, but we went bowling for our bachelor's party. We call Steven Tewksbury, who's one of the cast members in the show, our honorary best man because he coordinated the bachelor party for us and it was an amazing night. We started off with dinner and cocktails at Hurley's and then we migrated over to Frames at Port Authority and bowled there for awhile and then from there we went out dancing at Industry. That part's a blur.

Were there people from the cast at your wedding as well?
EH: No. There were actor friends from other Broadway shows, but we were able to get married that week because Univision took over our theatre and everybody was given paid leave for a week. That's the primary reason why nobody from our cast came, because everybody went on their vacations. Normally we would not have had that time off.
TW: They sent a lot of love and best wishes and things to us. We got married in Pasadena, Maryland on Chesapeake Bay, right on the water. It was a small group of people, but we partied. It was such a fun day.

What did you do when you found out you both got cast in Kinky Boots? Did you find out on the same day?
EH: No. I had done the workshop and then we did the out-of-town tryout in Chicago, so at that point I had pretty much been cast in the show for about 10 months. Tim flew out to Chicago to see the run and he said, "Oh my God, I want the [Lola] role" and I was like, "Uh, yeah right baby."
TW: He didn't think I would do it.
EH: But he pursued it with a vengeance. Two months later after we came back to New York, the standby position opened up and Jerry Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Harvey [Fierstein] and the rest of the creative team believed in him and they gave him that shot. We couldn't have been more thrilled — more astounded — but absolutely thrilled at the prospect of working together again. We spend 90% of any given week inside of that theatre, so we do not take it for granted that we have this opportunity to be together.

Eugene, was it hard knowing that Tim really wanted the role and that you were already cast?
EH: Not at all actually. I coached him.
TW: I think his concern was me being let down if I didn't get it, so I think that's why he didn't have the enthusiasm or assurance that I would actually get it. He never said that out loud, but I can tell that was a concern of his.
EH: But we worked very hard on his audition material together, because I had the opportunity to watch Billy Porter during the entire rehearsal process and I could give him some clues to what Jerry Mitchell might expect during an audition process.

You got kind of an inside track there, Tim.
TW: Yeah I did. The stars aligned. It was just one of those perfect moments. There's a saying, "When preparation meets opportunity you have success," and I was prepared and the opportunity presented itself, so I'm very grateful that I have the job.

Do you guys ever go after the same role?
TW: No, it never works out that way. We're two different types and that's a good thing.

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