Ani DiFranco Says Her 'Challenging' Broadway Debut in “Hadestown” Is 'Everything I'd Hoped For' (Exclusive)

Ani DiFranco sang on Anaïs Mitchell's 2010 concept album that grew into the Tony Award-winning 'Hadestown' — now, she's starring in the show as Persephone

<p>Matthew Murphy</p> Ani DiFranco in Broadway

Matthew Murphy

Ani DiFranco in Broadway's Hadestown

Grammy Award-winning musician Ani DiFranco is making her mark on Broadway.

DiFranco, 53, has been playing the Greek goddess Persephone in the Tony-winning musical Hadestown since she and The Summer I Turned Pretty star Lola Tung made their debut performances with the show on Feb. 9.

Best known as a prolific indie singer/songwriter — she recently released her latest single "Baby Roe" and completed her 23rd album this year — DiFranco originally helped Hadestown creator Anaïs Mitchell first conceptualize the music that grew into the hit show by singing Persephone's parts in Mitchell's 2010 concept album of the same name.

DiFranco calls Hadestown "a startlingly wonderful work of writing and theater" while discussing her debut on the Great White Way at New York City's Walter Kerr Theatre.

"If I was going to sing the same songs over and over every night, this would be them," she says. "And I have also just started working on a theater piece of my own and I don't know anything about musical theater, so I thought, geez, this would be a really good education."

DiFranco says "just trying something totally new" also influenced her decision to make the leap to Broadway.

Related: Ani DiFranco Performs Song from Hadestown Before Making Broadway Debut in Tony-Winning Musical (Exclusive)

<p>Matthew Murphy</p> Ani DiFranco (center) in Broadway's Hadestown

Matthew Murphy

Ani DiFranco (center) in Broadway's Hadestown

"My mom was like, 'Oh, you're a performer, you'll be fine,' " she says. "But it doesn't really work that way. I do something totally different and this has been an incredible challenge. Just everything that I'd hoped for in terms of challenge and inspiration."

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Hadestown itself is based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, two lovers whose lives are turned upside down when Eurydice is trapped in the underworld by Hades (Phillip Boykin). In the production, it's DiFranco's character Persephone — who spends half the year in the underworld, known as Hadestown, and half the year among the living, bringing about the earth's seasons — who goes to bat for the couple as Orpheus travels all the way to the underworld to rescue his love.

Related: The Summer I Turned Pretty's Lola Tung Feels 'Imposter Syndrome' in Her Hadestown Broadway Debut (Exclusive)

<p>Matthew Murphy</p> Ani DiFranco (right) in Broadway's Hadestown

Matthew Murphy

Ani DiFranco (right) in Broadway's Hadestown

Tung, 21, is only performing with Hadestown through March 17, but DiFranco tells PEOPLE she will stay on with the production into June. After that, the Buffalo, New York native will spend some time in Canada with her family as she gears up to release a children's book, titled Show Up and Vote, in August.

"I haven't been seeing much of my 10-year-old who is back in New Orleans. My teenage daughter is with me here in New York, so that's pretty great," DiFranco tells PEOPLE. "But I miss my little guy a lot and my big guy and the dogs and the garden and the life. Six months is a long time to not be home, but it's been cool being in New York again."

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