Hadestown is undoubtedly the hottest show on Broadway this season. It led the pack and received an astounding 14 Tony Award nominations, winning in eight categories including Best Musical.
It is special for Filipino Americans too, because one of the principal cast members is Eva Noblezada, who received her second Tony nomination for lead actress.
Eagle-eyed audience members will notice though that it’s not just Eva who is Filipino in the cast but one of the three scene-stealing trio called The Fates is a certified Pinay as well.
Her name is Kay Trinidad and in an interview with the Asian Journal, she expressed how thankful she is for being part of an amazing cast and an even more amazing show.
“It feels like a dream! I am so incredibly humbled and grateful to be a part of this very special show, this beautiful, inspiring and epic masterpiece.” Trinidad said.
It was an arduous casting process, something that Trinidad relished in remembering.
She first went in and sang her own song for the casting director, then got a callback and was given a packet of material, which included both Persephone and Fate music. She was asked to stay and dance, and later that day, she performed Fate choreography to “When The Chips Are Down.”
“I thought that was the final part of the audition and left the city for the holidays. I was given a call while out of town to come back and dance more for them as they were figuring out casting,” she recalled.
Since she was not in the city, Trinidad had to send her video dancing. She said they were kind enough to send a video of their choreographer, David Neumann, dancing to “Papers” music. She studied the tape and learned that choreography with her older sister taping it for submission.
Trinidad was then called in one more time, once back in town, to sing with another performer up for the role of one of the Fates. A day or two later, she received the call that I had booked the role of Fate #2!
“I was in my apartment when I received the call! I was so elated my heart could burst and I wanted to be one of the Fates so badly,” she said.
Trinidad had just finished a presentation of a new musical called “Lempicka” when the opportunity to join Hadestown presented itself.
Her husband and his company, Marathon Digital, had already been running the social media for the show and she had the opportunity to see the production both in Edmonton, Canada, and at The National Theatre in London.
“Since the first time I saw it, I fell in love with the stirring music of Anaïs Mitchell. Then when I saw the show once again in London, with all of the great adjustments and tightening (aka director Rachel Chavkin is a genius), that’s when I realized…I wanna be one of them (the Fates),” she said.
Hadestown has no shortage of great songs and numbers, so we had to ask her what her favorite scenes and songs are in the show.
“This is always a tough question because I have such a blast throughout every part of the show depending on who I’m playing with onstage,” she started.
Then she mentioned a couple: “When The Chips Are Down” (“It’s so fun to perform) and “Epic III” (When Hades and Persephone are sharing their moment of pure love and all the Underworld is swept up in it as well, it’s so incredibly beautiful and symbolic of how goodness can overcome the world and feel so damn uplifting – to see how the world could be).
“I love performing the powerhouse songs that are “Wait for Me” and the “Wait for Me Reprise” and getting to be the ominous presence in both songs,” she added.
“The best part of my job is sharing a piece of theater that is life-changing not only for me, but for anyone who sees it. I also find it so utterly gratifying to be able to represent my fellow Asians,” she said. “I didn’t grow up with many Asian role models or anyone who really looked like me on the stage. Lea Salonga was always someone I looked up to, but it wasn’t common to see diversity on stage as it is today, although we still have a long way to go regarding diversity in the arts. This is just the beginning.”
Kay feels like she has always been singing and putting on productions as far as she can remember.
“I would create and perform my own shows, concerts, and sock-skating performances for my family when I was a child. I would make tickets, make them buy them, have them purchase snacks during intermission, and would always force my little sister to be my co-star,” she recalled.
Growing up, she was always involved with choir and began taking voice lessons around 4th or 5th grade. It wasn’t until she went to high school and auditioned for show choir that she realized that singing and dancing at the same time was so hard.
That was her cue. She began taking all different kinds of dance lessons. She has always been very active in sports growing up, and by her junior year in high school, she had to choose between sports and drama and musical theater.
“Performing had my heart. It was then that I decided that I wanted to pursue a career on Broadway – my later high school years,” she quipped.
And how exactly did her parents react?
“My parents knew I was meant to be a performer before I did,” Trinidad revealed. “They have always been incredibly supportive in every way possible. I’m so thankful that at a young age, they enrolled me in piano lessons. This made learning music a breeze.”
They have also attended every single performance and concert she was a part of, and supported her decision to pursue her career and attend college far away from home at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Trinidad was a sophomore in college when she received an offer to join the cast of Bare: A Pop Opera as Diane Lee.
As a young college student, she couldn’t believe it was happening. The offer also meant getting her Equity card and joining the professional actor’s union. Her father called her high school musical theater teacher, Peg Waldschmidt, and asked if she should leave NYU for this show.
“She said, “Yes!” and I’ve never looked back. I don’t know how much more supportive my parents could have been, especially when faced with the unknown regarding my education and future. I love them so incredibly much, and they have always been my number one fans,” Trinidad added.
Doing the show has been an incredible experience for her because she gets to work with an amazing group of fellow cast members every single day, including fellow Filipino Americans Eva Noblezada and Adam Hyndman whom she describes as “Nothing less than incredible, inspiring human beings”.
Together, they’ve been through a lot of memorable and unforgettable experiences, including this year’s Tony Awards, which she was also very happy to share with her husband Mike Karns, Social Media Director/Co-Producer/Fates Fan Club President.
Doing the Tony Awards takes a lot of time and preparation and after the actual awards show, she felt exhausted and elated, all at once.
“It was a big recovery day for me and I’m sure for the rest of the cast as well. The Tony Awards day is a very crazy day,” she explained.
The cast starts the day with only 2-4 hours of sleep since they had two shows the day before and had a call time of 5:00 a.m. at the theater to get into hair, makeup and costumes.
Then they had to head over to Radio City Music Hall and run the entire Tony’s Show for rehearsal, then head back to their theater for a matinee, and then head back to Radio City Music Hall for the actual Tony Awards.
“By the time the awards were over, we had our company party, and then the after parties…and just like that it was 5:00 am! Bedtime!,” she said.
Opening Night was also memorable, and for her, a dream as her husband’s parents and her own parents shared in the celebration. “We are so blessed to have the most loving and supportive parents anyone could ask for. And to have them all at the show for Opening Night was such a blessing,” she said.
“It is so fulfilling to be performing in a show that is life-changing. This is why we do it! This is why I do theater,” she exclaimed. “I’m so blessed to be paid for doing what I love and call it a job. And to do art that moves the heart and makes people think.”
Based on the time she has spent doing the show, Trinidad has learned quite a few lessons, something that she’d bring wherever fate brings her next.
Balance work and life. Continue to learn and grow personally and professionally. Discover new things onstage every day. Although show life seems glamorous, it’s also a fulfilling ass-kicking.
In the end, it’s not all about the glamour and fame, and the Hollywood personalities who go backstage after the show. The audiences see two-and-a-half hours of great songs and performances, something that the cast does eight times a week.
That requires a lot of discipline and practice. In order to do that, Trinidad does a lot of stretching, yoga and strengthening exercises. She also runs, hydrates as much as she can, gets plenty of rest when possible, and keeps her body as healthy as possible.
Asked about her message to young Fil-Ams who want to become performers/artists, Trinidad quipped, “Shoot for the stars! Believe in everything you want to do and be, and work hard for it.”
Then she followed it up with some tips: Never stop learning and growing. Always be kind to others. If there is anything else you can see yourself doing other than performing, do that – because you really need to go all in and put all of your heart into your career. Have faith. Embrace everything you are and all of your differences. That’s what sets you apart and makes you the special person you are.
In the end, she is simply thankful, and full of gratitude. For her family and closest friends, and God, “for without him I wouldn’t be doing what I was meant to be doing or have my gifts to share”.