From a Twinsburg High School graduate to a Broadway star, Hannah Whitley’s story is one of determination and perseverance. Just five years after graduating, she is now performing in “Hadestown”, the Tony and Grammy-winning best musical, at Playhouse Square. This blog post will take you through her journey to the stage and the people who have believed in her along the way.
Hannah Whitley’s connection to Playhouse Square runs deep. As a young girl, she traveled from her home in Twinsburg to the theater to see her first musical. Now, she is the one on the stage, playing the role of Eurydice in “Hadestown”. Eurydice is a star-crossed lover trying to escape poverty in the Greek tragedy reimagined into an early 20th century industrial setting.
Whitley talks about her character with admiration and love. “She is just the most complex, heartfelt, devastating character. I love her so much. Playing this role is so much of a dream come true because of who that this character is,” she said.
Returning home to Northeast Ohio and performing in front of family, friends, and teachers is a nerve-wracking experience for Whitley, but she is quick to give credit to the people who have made her success possible. “That’s what’s so fun about being home, because these people I give so much credit to this moment — to all my mentors, all my teachers. It’s the people who believe in you from the get-go. Those people are so special, so for them to be able to see it, that’s what is going to make my heart explode.”
Whitley graduated from Ball State University just nine months ago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater. She says that the training she received there shaped her as an artist completely and has allowed her to perform eight times a week.
The best advice she can give to those who follow in her footsteps is to find good mentors and hold on to them tightly. “The truth is, not everybody’s going to believe in you,” she says. “Trust me. I had plenty of teachers who were like, ‘Hmm, I don’t see it in you,’ but I also had plenty of teachers who did.”
“Hadestown” runs through Feb. 19 at the Connor Palace Theater. Experience Hannah Whitley’s journey to the stage and the people who have believed in her along the way.