Robi Hager has traveled a long way — both literally and metaphorically — to share his music on the big stage.
His real-life journey began in Mexico City before moving to New York at the age of 14. His father, a trombone player, sought out the Big Apple to further his music career while exposing his three children to all the arts New York had to offer.
“My dad is a trombone player and was getting gigs up in New York and he figured there were more opportunities there for his kids to be involved with music,” Hager, now 34, recalled. “So we moved. All of this happened fast, within a year of my grandmother passing away. I knew I could be near Broadway and music and all this other stuff and I was like, sign me up. I was 14 at the time. Now we call the U.S. our home.”
Hager has since moved to South Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood and has become a steady contributor at the Arden Theatre on 2nd Street in Northern Liberties. He’s been featured in productions such as Next To Normal, Fun Home and Ragtime. Now the established composer and lyricist will bring his music talents to the virtual stage with an original music production called Robi Hager: So Far. It will run on the Arden’s digital stage from March 29 through April 11. Tickets are $30 per household and are currently on sale at ardentheatre.org. NOTE: The show has changed dates and will now run April 5-18.
“What’s really cool that we’re finding as we rehearse this show is that it’s becoming a very beautiful visual show and not just me singing at a piano,” said Hager. “There’s a visual aspect of it that I’m so happy that the designers and artist I asked to be involved said ‘yes’ to.”
Hager’s cabaret will take viewers on a journey through his original work, from his instrumental pieces to music from his popular musical Basic Witches. It will include a guest appearance by Melanie Hsu. Additionally, audiences will get a glimpse of the latest musical Hager has been composing, Little Duende.
“I’m sharing my music,” Hager said. “It’s the first time that I’m sharing something as personal as that. I did a few things prior, including Basic Witches that I produced and that was the first time I really shared my music, but this is so more than that.”
Hager made his way, mostly as an actor, and performed on Broadway in Spring Awakening, Doctor Zhivago, How to Succeed and Bye Bye Birdie. Hager learned to speak English as a child while in Mexico and has worked on his accent over the years.
“It wasn’t until I moved here and got into acting that I started to really focus on my accent work,” he said. “When I moved here, I had a very thick Mexican accent. I got a computer and wanted to portray different characters. With English, once you know the language, it’s easy to sing in that language, but there is a lot of modifying of what your voice needs to be doing according to what vowels you are singing.”
Multilingual and multitalented, Hager can’t wait to show audiences what he’s been working on so far.
“I am so excited to bring my music to audiences who may only know me as an actor,” Hager said. “I’m thrilled to share some special music with Arden audiences, both locally in Philadelphia and beyond, with this cabaret program. These songs all play an important part in my life as a creator and artist, and I’m excited to bring them to the digital stage.”