‘Hazbin Hotel’: Darren Criss and Co. on Their Heavenly Musical Number

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Saint Peter (Darren Criss) sings "Welcome to Heaven" in 'Hazbin Hotel.' - Credit: Prime Video
Saint Peter (Darren Criss) sings "Welcome to Heaven" in 'Hazbin Hotel.' - Credit: Prime Video

One of the most exciting new animated series this year is Hazbin Hotel, a Prime Video series from Vivienne Medrano that tells the surreal tale of Charlie Morningstar (voiced by Erika Henningsen), the princess of Hell, who tires of an annual purge whereby angels descend from Heaven to smite demons, and, along with her girlfriend Vaggie (Stephanie Beatriz), creates the Hazbin Hotel — a rehab clinic of sorts for those in Hell so that they can gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Medrano’s series is bolstered by several fantastical musical numbers about its characters’ wild journeys — including porn actor Angel Dust (Blake Roman), the Hazbin Hotel’s first resident.

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“Animation can just push the boundaries even further and really exaggerate performances in a big way,” Medrano tells Rolling Stone. “I feel like a lot of other musical series treat the music as a gimmick. I wanted the songs to feel truly part of the script and a major feature of everything happening. I wanted the songs to be strong and carry a lot of weight. I feel like paired with the incredible Broadway talent; it makes for a very musical show.”

And speaking of Broadway talent, Hazbin Hotel enlisted the services of Darren Criss, star of Glee and the Broadway musicals How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, to play Saint Peter, a salty angel with a soaring voice. His jubilant musical number “Welcome to Heaven” is an early standout on the show, and you can get a first look of it here:

“By the time this gig came around, recording studios, particularly ones that catered to voiceover, had already been used to implementing pretty thorough Covid protocols. So, both I as a performer, and the ones in charge on the other side of the proverbial booth (even though they were from a remote location via Zoom), already had it down to a science,” explains Criss.

He adds, “I will say, as a sidenote: it was a pretty cool surprise for me to be voice directed by Richard Horvitz, who is something of an animation and voiceover-world cult favorite, and whose work I’ve loved for years. I had no idea he was the voice director on my episode, but as soon as he started talking, I recognized the voice immediately and had myself a little fan moment… That was nuts.”

“Welcome to Heaven” was also composed by Sam Haft, lead singer of The Living Tombstone, and Emmy nominee Andrew Underberg (Hailey’s on It!), who tailored the song to Criss.

By the time we were into this episode, we needed to deliver demos for two songs a week, so we said to ourselves, ‘If you’re being welcomed to Heaven, it’s a celebration. What’s more celebratory than Saint Peter singing like Michael Jackson over a jubilant Nineties-style house track?’” Haft and Underberg explain. “At that stage, we had learned that Saint Peter would be voiced by the absolutely incredible Darren Criss, who has a much younger, sexier voice than you’d expect to come out of a biblical character from the first century, so we wanted to make the most of that juxtaposition.”

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