“Cleveland is home. It will always be home.” — Hadestown performer Nyla Watson is returning to the city that made her who she is today, CLEVELAND, OHIO! From her private school education in Cleveland to her graduation from Bedford High School, followed by a stint at Kent State University, Watson would go on to graduate from the acclaimed Baldwin Wallace musical theater program in 2014 and then immediately was swooped up by an agent before arriving in New York City to start her acting career and attend graduate school. This actress has Northeast Ohio embedded in her and she is thrilled to be returning to the area to perform in the national touring production of the 8x Tony-award-winning show, Hadestown when it runs at Playhouse Square from January 31 – February 19! {Show and ticket details on our events calendar}

The opportunity to perform in front of her family, former colleagues, and people who helped change her life is not lost on Watson:

“All of my influences will be coming to the show in Cleveland,” she beamed.

In addition to her program director at Baldwin Wallace, Victoria Bussert, fellow performers from her time starring in productions at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, a plethora of classmates and gaggles of friends, one of the people that Watson is most excited to see is the gentleman who first encouraged her to try her hand at musical theater.

“My high school theater teacher, who convinced me to audition for the musical, Brian Sinchak is coming to the show. I did my first show in school and Brian basically discovered me,” she said. “I was singing in the hallway at St. Peter Channel school. He’ll come and see me in the show. He also saw me on Broadway.”

It was after her very first school performance that Watson chose her future profession. And by golly, she made her dreams come true!

“I knew after my first show. My first show was ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ When the lights come up and the applause happened, I said, ‘I’m home.’ I knew right then. That first show was the catalyst for all of this,” she recalls.

And, while her influences and friends certainly are a thrill for Watson to see in the audience, there are folks that are even more special to her return home and will undoubtedly be grinning from ear to ear when they see her onstage.

“The most important people are my family! My parents, nieces, nephews, and siblings will all be there. To be able to perform this for the next generation of my family is my biggest accomplishment so far,” she said with a great deal of excitement. “I’m beaming! I’m overjoyed to be able to perform here. My parents are the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m so excited to be able to perform for my parents and my grandparents. I have two beautiful grandmas coming to the show. Cleveland is a huge part of my life still today. To be able to share this triumph with the city that made me is an accomplishment beyond compare.”

The aforementioned Victoria Bussert, who runs one of the top theater programs in the country, will also be in the audience. Seemingly every time a new production rolls into town, one of Ms. Bussert’s alumni is in the cast. It’s always exciting for this interviewer to speak with the proud BW graduates and hear the stories of returning to their Northeast Ohio roots to perform. One thing each of the graduates has in common is the singing of overwhelming praise for Bussert and her program.

“I think that speaks volumes about the education that Victoria Bussert gives her students. She makes sure that we are equipped for the business side of things as well as the art form. It takes a lot of tenacity and determination to endure New York City life. It’s hard work but we are ready, for sure,” Watson said. “Vicky is tough as nails. She is a woman in this industry who fights for where she is and where her students end up. I think that there are some triumphs because of that. I think that when you move to New York and you realize what it takes to endure this business, just like any child with any parent, you return home and you say ‘thank you.’ Right? You may not understand it at the moment. It may feel unfair at the time when your mother makes you wash dishes or do the chores that you deem unnecessary at the moment, or you don’t understand why you have to clean your room and make your bed every day. Then you get to New York and you realize that those habits helped you form a thick skin that allows you to endure in the industry. You return home and say ‘thank you.’”

With no ill intent and not to be cynical, this interviewer asked Watson a tongue-in-cheek question inquiring if she had anyone in town that doubted her, was unsupportive of her goals, or perhaps an ex-romantic partner, who will now have to pay a pretty penny if they want to see her on the Playhouse Square stage:

“I have been so intentional about the inner healing that I have needed to do to be able to become the person that I am today. I’m really cool with all of those people and/or they have seen my journey up until this point,” she said. “I have been performing professionally for 10 years now. I think that at this point, I have garnered so much respect, even from the haters, that there is no bad blood, you know? I’m not that person. I’m a woman of Christian faith. I’m so intentional about forgiveness and reconciliation and all of the principles that Jesus talks about. I’m really serious about that. Maybe five years ago? Sure. But today, it’s all love.”

So, what is this show Watson will be performing in all about?

“Hadestown is a big love story. It follows two love stories. It follows new love with Orpheus and Eurydice and ancient love with Hades and Persephone. You get to see these love stories intersect and intertwine and how they parallel and also the gravity of things, and the torture and intensity of passion of young love,” the actress describes. “We get to follow these four lovers through their journey of when life happens and you also get to see the fragility of humanity in this human love. Orpheus and Eurydice are human. You get to see the majesty of the love of the gods, Persephone and Hades, who are both gods. It allows so much reflection. Even getting to do this show every day, I watch this show and see myself in almost every character. I think that the beauty of Hadestown it is that is such a mirror of the parts of us that are loyal, divine, supernatural, and long-lasting, but also, our humanity, frailty; and hunger, and the things that we are willing to do when life is not necessarily going our way; and the joy that it brings when we are able to endure through those moments.”

Watson, who understudies Persephone in this production, was asked to describe her regular role on this tour:

“I am one of the Fates; there are three of us. We bring light to the subconscious of a lot of what the characters are going through,” she explains. “We also help to push the story forward and are very much involved in illuminating what is happening, very ‘matter of factly,’ without judgment, but definitely leaning to the side of the negative; of the pessimist. We’re definitely a part of that and pushing that narrative forward.”

The Fates in Greek mythology were the goddesses who controlled the threads of human life. They were said to be unchangeable and determined the destinies of mortals and gods alike. They play a key role in Hadestown.

Every Broadway show has a moment that just WOWs the audience. As for the tunes that will captivate the audience in Hadestown?

“I feel like the audience is going to definitely go bananas for the first number. Our Hermes, Nathan Lee Graham, does a beautiful job of introducing this world to the audience,” Watson replied. “I also think that the title number is always a fun one for the audience to experience, for sure. You get really invited into our world, AND, we really break the fourth wall. We could really go as far as to say that the audience is a character in our show. We need the reaction of the audience.”

Wrapping up, Watson was asked for her best sales pitch on why Clevelanders should come out and see Hadestown:

“Well, for one, I’m not the only Clevelander in the cast! Our lead, Eurydice [Hannah Whitley] is from Twinsburg, Ohio. We definitely want to share that Cleveland pride from the Cleveland girls that are in Hadestown. That’s a really good reason to support it,” said Watson. “I think that you want to support this because the music is fantastic. The band is like nothing I have performed with. These are some of the most talented people I have ever done a show with. If you really want to see true artistry; true dedication to the art form and have a good time, this is the show for you!”

Catch Nyla Watson in Hadestown from January 31 – February 19 at Playhouse Square! Complete details and ticket information can be found: RIGHT HERE!

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