As fate would have it, ‘Hadestown’ actress succeeds

By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The seventh time was the charm for actress Marla Louissaint, who wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to being cast in “Hadestown,” the winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards including best new musical.

The six previous times she auditioned for the show proved to be stepping stones to her eventual casting as one of the fates, part of a vibrant, diverse and inclusive ensemble of actors, singers, dancers and Greek goddesses who design the fates of men and the dangers that happen to them in tapestry. In Ancient Greece, the fates were known as the apportioners of mortal life, deciding when and how individuals died.

“The fates portray a lot of different pieces in the puzzle,” Louissaint said. “The fates are always portrayed in Greek mythology. It’s how we intervene in humans’ lives. One thing we were able to develop — they shape-shift throughout the show. We are Hades’ henchmen. We are wind, animals and get to portray a lot of things. We are very powerful. I’m the measurer. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Louissaint, who refers to herself as a “Haitian visionary,” had just flown into Sacramento to join the rest of the cast for rehearsals. She’s making her debut with the show during its Los Angeles return to the Ahmanson Theatre for a limited 16-performance engagement Oct. 3-15.

“I auditioned for different parts,” Louissaint said. “In 2021, I auditioned for a fate, then a worker. I realized those seven times it was supposed to be for someone else. I could have been jaded — going in seven times. Perseverance is amazing.”

Louissaint, 26, hadn’t even seen the show until it was time for her seventh audition.

“I didn’t know the full scope of the show,” she said. “I finally saw the show on the seventh call. It’s one thing to listen to the music and fall in love. It’s something else to see the show. 

“I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I fell in love with it even more,” she added. “We get a lot of nos as a performer. I had to pursue it. It was on my vision board. Plus, I wanted to work with the director, Rachel Chavkin,” a Tony Award winner.

“Hadestown,” which won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is described as a boldly optimistic theatrical experience that tells the story of two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone.

The show takes audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back while delivering a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.

“The show is a love story,” said Louissaint, who is also the understudy for Persephone. “It’s a tale that all of us can see ourselves in. It’s one that pushes us to look at the power of love and what it takes to break cycles. It does a beautiful job that helps us transform.”

Louissaint loves that “Hadestown” is “all about the music and poetry.”

“In the show, we get to inject things that come up for us,” she said. “I enjoy the different things that are not on the page. This show is absolutely remarkable and important. I love how the show begins and ends in the same place.”

A seasoned activist, model and performer, Louissaint, a 2015 Jimmy Award winner (The National High School Musical Theatre Awards are a national celebration of outstanding student achievement. She won for “Caroline, or Change”), has an interesting personal story. Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, her dream of being an entertainer was almost unfulfilled.

“I majored in computer science in school,” Louissaint said. “I had pressure coming out of school (Fordham University 2020). I won the Jimmy Award. But being raised a Jehovah’s Witness, I couldn’t study acting like I wanted. 

“While the arts have always been in my life, there was pressure for us not to explore the arts in my family. I was raised in a conservative household. I had to act a certain way at school, home and church. I wanted to uplift my family with a traditional job. Computer science was what came to mind. I originally went for physics but switched majors. What I do now stems from survival.”

Louissaint, whose first show was “Once On This Island” when she was in the fourth grade, said growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, “There were a lot of shows I couldn’t do because of conflicting themes from what Jehovah’s Witnesses were teaching.

“I had to make a choice,” she added. “I’m no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. I left five years ago.”

Today, Louissaint, whose producing journey began with her bio-cabaret, “A Goddess Reborn,” which debuted to a sold-out house at the Green Room 42 in January, is known for her acting and her powerhouse singing.

“Singing was always my first love,” she said. “Using my voice to tell a story — that’s pure magic and spirit. It connects to the legacy of our ancestors.”

Louissaint’s credits include “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” “Seven Seconds” (Netflix), “Flatbush Misdemeanors” (Showtime), creative producer (Theatre Producers of Color ’23), and for being an internationally published model (Vogue Italia, Oprah Magazine, and SavagexFenty).

A self-described “dreamer and community organizer,” Louissaint’s passions go well beyond entertainment. She’s all about making the world around her a better place.

“I dream of a world where we can move beyond the systemic harms before us,” she said. “There are a lot of pressing issues that we are facing. We have to demand that we have a livable planet.”

Louissaint got her community organizing spirit from her grandmother.

“Community organizing looks different for everybody,” she said. “Mine comes from the caregiving of my grandmother. My spirit also comes from my Haitian legacy.”

Louissaint has made it her mission to “do my part.”

To that end, in 2020, she launched Claim Our Space NOW, a Black Queer and immigrant nonprofit focused on building and mobilizing community power by making activism accessible and dismantling systems of white supremacy through three tenets: informing, inspiring and speaking truth to power.

“In 2020, I saw the loop of the Black Death in our cycles,” Louissaint said. “I was like, ‘We can’t just activate for hashtags.’ I saw people get in the street, take selfies and then go home. 

“There had to be a way of streamlining the resources.” she added. “Our mission is to ritualize Black supremacy. The media was making it look like Black people were only being depressed by Black cops killing us – there is a lot more. It’s possible to break systemic loops. All we want are basic human rights.”

The underworld in “Hadestown,” suffering from poverty, strife, and famine, is also looking for human rights as they rail against exploitation and greed.

“Hadestown speaks to many issues,” Louissaint said. “I’m happy to be working on a show I care about. It’s a powerful narrative driven by women. It drives the message home that we have all the power. I hold space with the natural world. That’s where I find my peace.”

“Hadestown” is being staged at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, through Oct. 15. Showtimes are 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m.Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $40 and are available at, Audience Services at (213) 972-4400 or in person.

Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at