Omaha Native Talks ‘Hadestown’, Stallone’s Unexpected Help & Loving the Stage | Arts and Theater

Kevyn Morrow, originally from Omaha, loves his job.

As an actor, he has worked all over the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris, to name a few. He has worked on stage, in practically all kinds of television and in films. He also brings his passion back to Omaha and Nebraska to teach master performance classes a few times a year to help the next generation of budding actors.

On Tuesday, Morrow will take the stage at the Orpheum Theater as Hades in the nationwide Broadway tour of the musical “Hadestown.” Winner of eight Tony Awards in 2019, including Best Musical, “Hadestown” is based on the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, and Orpheus’ descent into hell to save his love.

Omaha native Kevyn Morrow will star in the upcoming musical “Hadestown,” which opens at the Orpheum on Tuesday.


Although Hades is generally thought of as a villain in mythology, Morrow – now on his ninth Broadway show – said he was trying to make the character more three-dimensional.

“He’s not just a villain or a villain, or an evil Greek god, but I try to make him a man with emotions, both good and bad, jealousy, hate, love” , Morrow said. “All the things we go through as people.”

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Morrow’s love of acting started early, and he recalled it was sibling rivalry that started the fire. He saw his older brother perform in a junior theater production. When he was in sixth grade, Morrow auditioned for the same company but was not selected. At the time, his piano teacher – Claudette Valentine – was also providing musical direction for various shows at the Omaha Community Playhouse. Morrow said she would let him come to rehearsals, and eventually he started performing parts. He would later dance for the Omaha Ballet and receive a scholarship for the Joffrey Ballet’s summer program in New York before his senior year at Northwest High School.

“It seemed like everyone was pushing me to be the next Arthur Mitchell because he was the most popular black ballet dancer,” he said. “I had this natural ability – or so it seemed. I was pretty good.

At the end of the summer program, he was invited to continue his studies as an apprentice with Joffrey. But the Broadway virus had bitten him during his stay in the Big Apple.

“I thought ‘Yeah, that’s what it is,'” he said. “I had to come back and break hearts in the ballet community and scare my parents who were like, ‘How are you going to do that?’ … I was pretty lucky and blessed with the support, even though I wasn’t going to be the next Arthur Mitchell. I think they’re okay with how I turned out.

In the early 1980s, Morrow got a taste of the big screen, starting as an extra dancer in “Staying Alive,” the 1983 sequel to “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta and directed by Sylvester Stallone. He said the experience opened an unexpected door for him.

During filming, Stallone was talking to the additional dancers individually, and when he got to Morrow, he gave him a very specific line.

“I can’t tell you that line…it ended up on the cutting room floor because they wanted to get a PG rating, the first cut of the movie was rated R,” Morrow explained. “But at that point I became a member (of the Screen Actors Guild) because I had a line. So I thank Sylvester Stallone for that. My salary went up tremendously over the next six weeks and that was terrific.

He would go on to star in other films, including “Barbershop” (2002) with Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer. He has also had roles in many television shows over the past 30 years, including “Murphy Brown”, “Hope & Faith”, “Elementary” and “One Life to Live”. He said that while he hopes to do more TV and film in the future, performing will always be his first love and passion.

He added that “Hadestown” is not “your typical musical”.

“There’s R&B, gospel, bluegrass, a bit of country and a New Orleans vibe,” he said. “It’s not your ‘Oklahoma!’ typical, you know where we’ll just stand and tell you a story. We’re going to tell you a story, but you’re going to be involved.

Colleen D. Ervin