Kimberly Marable shines in "Hadestown." (Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)
Kimberly Marable shines in "Hadestown." (Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)

Brooklyn’s own Kimberly Marable has conquered both stage and screen – even lending her voice on the Netflix anime series, “Cannon Busters.”

But in talking about the opportunity to perform the leading role of Persephone in the Tony Award-winning Best New Musical (2018-2019) “Hadestown,” she said she’s not only thrilled but blessed to be playing her “dream role.”

“Hadestown,” which opened Oct. 13 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Northwest, continues through Oct. 31. And for those who have long been devout aficionados of the theater, there’s reason to celebrate as the production serves as the first Broadway musical back at the Kennedy Center since early 2020.

“The lights have been off at theaters for close to 19 months – that’s a long time,” said Marable, who also starred in the musical, again in the role of Persephone, Our Lady of the Underground, as a member of the original Broadway company.

“As a performer and theater goer, I’ve missed the community. As artists, when we share space with the audience and get a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those two 2 ½ hours on stage, we’re allowed the opportunity to share the story. The large amount of time alone that we’ve recently experienced has reminded me of the importance of being together and having ways to tell stories, communicating with one another and living in the present. And I’m optimistic that the theater is back for the long haul.”

Marable has a list of impressive credits under her belt including “The Lion King,” “Sister Act,” “Dreamgirls,” “Hairspray” and “The Book of Mormon.” But she pointed to several factors which make this show particularly “special.”

“First, you have to start with the music because it’s so different from what you tend to think about in a Broadway musical,” she said. “The band is only seven musicians but they break new ground with American folk music and blue grass blended with New Orleans-inspired jazz as part of their repertoire. The music is simply fantastic.”

“Hadestown,” written by celebrated singer-songwriter and Tony Award® winner Anaïs Mitchell and developed with innovative director and Tony Award® winner Rachel Chavkin, marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics and book – the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat.

Following two intertwining love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone, “Hadestown” invites the audience to embark upon a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back.

Beguiling melodies and poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers and singers, “Hadestown” delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.

“I never thought about what I would identify as my ‘dream role’ but I’ve come to realize that this is it,” Marable said. “I always wanted to be an actor; I suppose ever since being in my mother’s womb. I used to make up songs, sing and dance on the bus and embarrass her.”

“But as Persephone, as I was recently telling our director, this serves as the dream role I never knew until I met ‘her.’ It’s not often, especially as a Black actress, that you get the chance to portray a Black queen and goddess. Even more important to me, she’s a character who’s complicated and has real morals. And with most of the play being sung, much like an opera, I have the chance to interpret some of most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.”

“I’m having the time of my life.” .

“And then, it’s just wonderful to see theaters open again and know that they’re taking precautions to keep the cast, crew and audience safe so theaters can remain open – so we can live again – so we can live our fullest lives,” Marable said.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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