Broadway’s Hadestown is set to transform Calgary audiences with a blend of beautiful music, choreography, and characters
Calgary Citizen spoke to actor J. Antonio Rodriguez about his starring role
J. Antonio Rodriguez, who plays Orpheus in Hadestown, says audiences should expect “good tunes, a timeless story, and most importantly, they should expect to feel.” // Submitted
Audiences might be surprised to learn that the Tony award-winning musical Hadestown was partly developed right here in Alberta where it was brought to life on stage by Edmonton's Citadel Theatre in 2017. The show earned eight Tony Awards in 2019, Composed of an album by talented American singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, the music has received widespread acclaim and numerous awards. We spoke with actor J. Antonio Rodriguez, who plays Orpheus, about his transition from the role of a swing to the starring role. Get your tickets!
Tell us about the evolution of your role in Hadestown.
Starting out as a swing in early 2022 was a very fulfilling experience. It was my first big job and I wanted to make sure that I did everything to the best of my ability. It truly made me realize that every single member of the company is equally as important, no matter the job. From the principals to the ensemble, crew, stage management, you name it. We’re all in this together. My hard work throughout the year paid off, and I took over the role of Orpheus full-time in April. I worked very hard to encapsulate this role as best as possible. I still make new discoveries every single day.
What was the biggest challenge of playing the swing role and then a starring role?
The most challenging thing about being a swing is the fact that we’re not onstage every day. Swings have to be as good or even better than their onstage counterparts. They know most of the ensemble tracks and often multiple principal tracks. That puts them in a situation where they are very valuable to the company, but because of their specific skill set, they are not onstage every day so they can be held in retainer to step into any of the number of tracks that they cover. But being a principal also has its own set of challenges. It is very hard to sing Orpheus eight times a week, so I have to make sure that I’m taking care of myself, especially my voice. I don’t go out very often, I describe myself as being a half couch potato. A couch french fry if you will. I rest a lot so that those 3, and sometimes six hours that I’m onstage a day, I knock out of the park.
What drew you to theatre when you first started out?
I started at the age of seven doing community theatre and to be quite honest, the simplest answer is that it was fun. I had a blast, and it may sound like a cop-out answer, but I think that if you can do your job and still have fun, it’s a win. And I’m still having the best time doing what I do.
What is your favourite aspect of touring on a Broadway production?
I love that we get to play to so many different kinds of audiences across the country. We’re in a unique position in that we’re not playing to NYC natives or tourists, so we are able to receive many different kinds of reactions to the show. Every audience is different, and it’s such a joy to be able to bring this show to so many people.