Khaila Wilcoxon has been appearing on stages since her high school days.
But now she’s performed on one of the biggest stages in the world: New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
Wilcoxon took part in Sunday’s Tony Awards in the massive theater as part of the cast of “Hadestown.”
For her first trip to the Tonys, the 22-year-old Wilcoxon — a 2014 Indian Trail High School and Academy graduate — picked a great show: “Hadestown” won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Not bad for a kid from Kenosha who’s appearing in her first Broadway musical.
Performing on the Tony Awards “was one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life,” Wilcoxon said Tuesday on the phone from New York.
The troupe rehearsed their “Hadestown” number earlier on the stage, but “when that LED curtain lifted and we heard the roar from the crowd, that was unforgettable.”
“Hadestown” is the toast of Broadway, winning over theater critics and audiences.
The musical, with a score by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, offers an unconventional twist on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and their journeys to the underworld of Hades. Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin, who both won Tonys Sunday, developed the show together.
One of 17-member cast
Wilcoxon is in great company as part of the 17-member cast of “Hadestown,” which is topped by Broadway legend André De Shields. He capped his 50-year acting career by scoring his first Tony Award win on Sunday as best featured actor in a musical for his role as Hermes in “Hadestown.”
He’s been a mentor to Wilcoxon, who is the youngest cast member.
“From day one, it’s been a humbling experience to be in a room with so many theater legends,” she said. De Shields, she added, “always speaks from his heart.”
Wilcoxon first heard “Hadestown” by listening to the cast album from the show, which played in Edmonton and London before coming to Broadway in March.
“I thought it was really cool music,” she said. “Then I was in Maine for summer stock theater and was cleaning the cabins when a song started playing. I was dancing and singing, and I realized it was from ‘Hadestown.’ I told my agents, ‘I have to be in that show. This show is me; it’s what I do best.’ The lyrics fly off the pages and straight into your heart.”
Wilcoxon is hoping to stay with the show for three or four years on Broadway and, eventually, in a national tour.
In “Hadestown,” Wilcoxon is part of the ensemble and is also an understudy for the lead character Eurydice and the three Fates.
She not only has to know her own part, she has to know all those other parts, too, in case she has to go on stage to replace a cast member.
“You have to be ready if you get that call,” she said, adding that having to learn all those parts is terrific theater training.
She has been called on numerous times to fill in, and cast member Timothy Hughes — who is from Brookfield — told her, “I’ve never seen someone get on stage and fight like you did.” (Wilcoxon explained that going on stage as an understudy is a “fight or flight” experience and “you don’t want to be the understudy who is scared off.”)
Not only will Wilcoxon be able to say her first Broadway show was a Tony Award winner, she can also explain it took her to hell and back ... for eight shows a week.