Amber Gray stepped on the Broadway stage of Hadestown as Persephone for the last time on Feb. 18. She played Persephone for over six years and told the New York Times that she decided to leave to be able to spend more time with her family and was ready for a change.
Hadestown is a musical written by Anaïs Mitchell. It’s an interpretation of the Greek tragedy of Orpheus, the son of a muse with god-like musical talents, and his beloved Eurydice.
Ashley Hufford works as a video editor in New York City. At the start of the pandemic after a big move and a breakup, she decided to prioritize musical theatre. She attends a few shows per month and runs a TikTok account about musical theatre with around 41,800 followers.
Hufford went to see Hadestown for the first time in 2016 and has seen the show 14 times since. She is also part of a group chat titled “Amber Gray is God.”
“I was bored, so I started this TikTok. Then it just started to take off. I do reviews from the fan perspective. It’s been a great way to document all of the shows that I see and I’ve met so many cool people,” said Hufford.
She said Gray is not a traditional actress and watching her on stage was exciting because she really put herself into the role, especially having been in it for so many years.
“I love traditional theatre, but her acting is just so unique and different. She’s a very quirky person. I think she really brings that into her performance and the way that she does Persephone,” said Hufford. “She growls through the songs and it’s not like your traditional, beautiful, operatic soprano, but it’s so powerful and different.”
Amber Gray is moving on to play Banquo in Macbeth. Hufford said she was excited to see how Gray will play this role. Macbeth is in the theatre directly across from Hadestown on Broadway, so she’ll never be far from her former cast and crew.
Hufford was in the crowd during Gray’s last performance of Hadestown.
“I just never had an experience where not only was the whole audience standing, but the whole cast was standing and Amber was weeping and it was just a really incredible moment that I am so happy that I was there for,” she said.
Ben Geurts, a second-year St. Thomas University fine arts student, said he sees theatre as a “calling.”
Geurts is a fan of the show Hadestown because of how it introduces relevant and important themes to an age-old story.
He said musical theatre often takes complicated themes like climate change, capitalism, and abuse in the workforce and makes it more comprehensible by weaving them into their characters and simpler ideas.
“Hadestown is a show that makes you think. … It’s a really good place for discussion,” said Geurts.
He compared Gray leaving Hadestown to a rock in a river — if a rock is moved from a riverbed, the water flow will change slightly, but it will still be a river. In this way, Geurts said that fans can find comfort in knowing that the show will keep going and still be just as beautiful as it is now.
“That’s one of the cool things about theatre. You can tell a story and have a million different interpretations of it based on the actors that play those characters,” said Geurts, “Amber delivers the message of Persephone really well and that’s not to say that anybody who follows in her footsteps won’t do a good job, … but she set the bar really high.”