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Interview: Chibueze Ihuoma From Hadestown Brings Orpheus to Life

Written by Anais Mitchell, the Tony Award-winning musical, Hadestown, retells the unforgettable journey of love and loss between two mythic tales.

The acclaimed musical is a vibrant yet enchanting story following Orpheus and Eurydice as well as Hades and Persephone. Controlled by the fates, Hadestown uses lyrics and music to envelop the audience in a world where light and dark exist.

Orpheus, Persephone, and Hades surrounded by the Fates Chibueze playing Orpheus.
Photo by Charles Erickson – Hadestown (2022)

The original version of the musical premiered in Vermont in 2006 eventually moving to Broadway and London in 2018 and 2019. The most recent production of Hadestown started in 2021 with a national tour in the United States. The tour has recently been extended to include more locations.

However, the pandemic has slowed down the production, but the musical is back better than ever with an exciting cast lineup!

Catch the Hadestown musical on tour in select cities!

Here’s the scoop on the cast as well as an exclusive interview with Chibueze Ihuoma who now plays Orpheus!

The Cast of Hadestown

Hadestown cast members
Photo by Charles Erickson

Maria-Christina Oliveras will be taking on the role of Persephone for the national tour in the spring of 2023. While she’s not acting in films or on Broadway, Maria loves singing and voice-acting.

Jewelle Blackman plays Persephone in the Greek love story after playing one of the Fates. This actress and singer-songwriter make her Broadway debut in Hadestown after starring in her first musical, You Know My Name, Not My Story.

Chibueze Ihuoma has recently taken on the role of Orpheus for the U.S. national tour. He is a Nigerian-American who graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2021. Alongside his role in Hadestown, the writer and singer have also starred in 12 Angry Animals, Once, and The Wild Party.

Matthew Patrick Quinn plays the infamous role of Hades in the national tour. His other works include Scooby Doo LIVE! and Finding Neverland.

Hannah Whitley is an actor, singer, and dancer delightfully playing Eurydice on the U.S. Tour. While this may be her first national tour, Hannah has experience playing roles in Romeo & Juliet, Bring It On, and Crazy for You to name a few.

Nathan Lee Graham takes over the role of Hermes after Lillias White. The American singer and actor is known for his roles in Zoolander, Sweet Home Alabama, and Hitch.

Anais Mitchell Creates Hadestown

Hadestown originally started out as a DIY community theater project but was expanded to become a full-length theatrical production.

Based on the development of Hadestown over the years, Anais Mitchell works with a creative team that strives to improve every aspect of the production from the songs to the storyline. Anais is one of the few women to ever have a Broadway production solely written and created by her.

Chibueze Ihuoma gives his thoughts about Anais Mitchell’s hard work in creating Hadestown by saying, “It honestly astounds me every time I sing the music, or hear certain transitions in between songs that I find so genius, that it was all written by one person. Anaïs’ lyricism is up there with the greats like Sondheim, and it’s an honor to perform her work each night and bring her characters to life.”

Greatest Greek Love Story of All Time

Hannah Whitley as Eurydice in Hadestown
Photo by Charles Erickson

Even though Hadestown explores the relationships between Hades and Persephone, the main spotlight is on the fateful love of Eurydice and Orpheus. The moral of the ancient Greek legend shows us that patience and faith are two key factors to a love that lasts forever.

The Hadestown musical retells the beautiful Greek story in live action, drawing the audience with relatable emotions toward love.

Chibueze expresses his thoughts about being a part of the famous love story, “It’s amazing, especially because of how relatable the love between Orpheus and Eurydice truly is. I think that’s what makes it so great, the universal nature of it: we’ve all been in a place where we’ve melted away our guards and surrendered to a warm love that we never thought possible, or felt so in love with someone that we felt we’d go to the ends of the earth for that person. 

Community

Hadestown is a musical production that has expanded over the years, leading to more addicting songs as well as talented cast members. Chibueze Ihuoma who plays Orpheus for the U.S. national tour finds a sense of belonging amongst the other cast members.

He remembers one moment in particular where he felt a community-driven environment, “One song in particular that strikes me is ‘Living it Up on Top’, specifically the toast in the middle. There’s something very special about celebrating life in spite of the troubles and struggles you may be going through. Optimism like that is hard to come by, so fully lean into it and feel the community of the cast at that moment is quite something.”

Playing the Role of Orpheus

Orpheus singing in Hadestown
Photo by Charles Erickson

Orpheus is a poet and musician who goes to great lengths to recover his lost wife, Eurydice. The major flaw of his character is his curiosity. which leads him to visit the underworld even if it may cost him everything.

Chibueze expresses his thoughts on the character and the aspects of Orpheus that may be similar to himself by saying, “Definitely his awkwardness. Sometimes when doing certain scenes, I feel like I’m just channeling my 8th-grade self, right down to the blunt confession of love. While I’m glad I’ve grown from being that forward, it’s nice to reconnect with those aspects of yourself.”

Orpheus is a unique character that manages to express his love in a unique way compared to Hades or Persephone. His bright aura and way of thinking are a stark contrast to that of the ruler of the underworld.

Chibueze expresses that pressure by saying, “You just have to play the moments truthfully and be open and hope the rest of the cast feels a light radiating from you. On the other hand, you have to convince the workers and eventually Hades that there’s more to life than labor and that you have to love fully to truly live.”

He also says that “It’s a dream come true. It challenges me every night. I get to act alongside such amazing talents. It fills me with warmth, it breaks me down at the end. Sometimes when I sing the Epics, it’s so soft and intimate that it feels like I’m praying. It’s been so great, and whatever role comes next will have big shoes to fill.”

Orpheus Songs in Hadestown

Chibueze Ihuoma holding a rose
Photo by Charles Erickson

In Hadestown, Orpheus has a lineup of songs that play into the fates. He continuously makes the effort to bring joy even in the darkest corners of the underworld. From “Wait for Me” to “Epic I,” Orpheus wants to show his view of the world to everyone through his voice and lyricism.

Chibueze brings Orpheus to life with a voice that audiences call ‘enchanting’. Chibueze’s favorite song is the “‘Wedding Song’ – it’s such a bop. I love the soulfulness in the band, the playful banter between the lovers, and it’s just so wholesome. Definitely, the song I have on repeat when I’m not doing the show.”

Connecting With Modern Society

One of the most powerful aspects of the Hadestown productions is the flawless depictions found in modern society. Anais Mitchell not only wanted to retell her favorite Greek love story but also strived to write her own narrative about the power of love and the struggles people face.

Chibueze expands upon the idea by saying, “It’s the strength of community and the power of love in our society, without a doubt. We often see real change in our world when grassroots movements convince large groups of people to stand up for what they feel is right, and there’s no stronger unifier or persuader than love.”

Audition Process for Hadestown

Chibueze Ihuoma performing in Hadestown
Photo by Kevin Berne

The most recent musical production of Hadestown started in 2021 when the pandemic was still dangerous enough to limit in-person social gatherings.

Chibueze Ihuoma tells us what his audition process was like for the Tony Award-winning, ‘Best Musical,’ “It was pretty wild! I first auditioned in 2020, and on the day of the final callbacks, the industry had its full shutdown. So I was in limbo for about a year and some change, and when they picked up the auditions back up, they were all on Zoom.

He continues by saying that it “Definitely was a strange experience singing the songs in my living room to the full creative in small boxes on my computer. But hey, when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, and it worked out in the end! And it was inspiring to see that the work could be done and felt no matter what the format.” 

What Audiences Should Expect

The longest-lasting Broadway musical production, Hadestown brings people together from all over the country to connect with love and music. Since the beginning of the tour back in 2021, Hadestown is expected to have nonstop sellouts just like their Broadway shows.

Love might be one of the central themes of the musical, but the audience should also find themselves stepping into a familiar world where life is a constant struggle in several different ways. No other musical directly speaks to modern times.

Grab your tickets to see Hadestown live near you!

chibueze ihuoma in hadestown musical

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