Some TV shows are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. But Hazbin Hotel, A24 and Prime Video’s new animated musical comedy series, found a fourth path: proving its greatness before the series even premiered. Years before it was greenlit for Prime Video and given an all-star cast and a host of catchy songs, Hazbin Hotel had already become the obsession of countless fans. And now that it’s set to officially premiere, it’s sure to amass more.
The series began as a pilot written and produced by YouTuber Vivienne Medrano, aka VivziePop. But rather than using this pilot as a proof of concept for distributors, Medrano posted it directly to her YouTube channel in 2019, where viewers fell in love with its premise: The story follows Charlie, the princess of hell, who runs a hotel for demons who want to be redeemed.
“I never expected people to care so deeply about every single aspect of the show, the lyrics, the music, the character designs, the everything,” Medrano tells Inverse.
Even though there were only 31 minutes of Hazbin Hotel content, a fandom quickly grew. Any cursory search of TikTok reveals hundreds of cosplays and tribute videos. In 2020, A24 announced a series order, and in 2023, Prime Video finally announced a 2024 premiere date — and a second season.
For Medrano, the new fandom is a blessing and a curse. “Any little mistake or little thing that we left in the background, they would notice it,” she says. “They're like, ‘Wait, what does this mean for the lore?’”
But in going from pilot to full series, it quickly became clear one giant element needed to change: the voice cast. While the voice cast of the pilot was beloved, the new series includes a fleet of earworms written by Five Nights at Freddy’s songwriters Sam Haft and Andrew Underberg, and needed a cast who could handle Broadway-level belting. So what better place to look than Broadway itself?
“Obviously, the singing component is huge, but [Broadway actors] are amazing voice actors as well,” Medrano says. “And so we found the singing voices and the speaking voices together, and that ultimately was the really important thing for me.”
The Hazbin Hotel voice cast boasts Erika Henningsen as Charlie Morningstar, Jeremy Jordan as her dad Lucifer, Stephanie Beatriz as Charlie’s girlfriend Vaggie, Amir Talai as radio demon Alastor, Blake Roman as erotica star demon Angel Dust, Keith David as world-weary bartender Husk, and Kimiko Glenn as bloodthirsty housekeeper Niffty, plus a supporting cast of Broadway legends Alex Brightman, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jessica Vosk, and Christian Borle.
Each of these stars slowly learned just what a reputation this series had. Blake Roman, currently performing in the Broadway musical Harmony, had fans literally waiting at the stage door. “We come out the stage door, I was signing Playbills and somebody was like, ‘Oh, good job. Also, I can't wait for Hazbin Hotel,’” Roman tells Inverse. “I was like, ‘Me too.’ I can't help but freak out.”
Erika Henningsen knows the pressure of taking on a beloved character after originating the role of Cady Heron in Mean Girls: the Musical, but Charlie Morningstar came with her own legacy. “I met this one woman, she was a kid when it came out and now she's a full adult,” she tells Inverse. “She said, ‘I have been growing up with this show in the back of my mind. I'm so excited to see it.’”
Stephanie Beatriz is also no stranger to dealing with a passionate fan base after starring in the surprise hit show Twisted Metal, a video game adaptation recently renewed for Season 2. (While Beatriz can’t say much about Twisted Metal Season 2, she does assure Inverse it is a “f*cking wild ride.”) As Vaggie, she’s found a similarly welcoming atmosphere within the Hazbin fandom, but says the project is far more than that.
“As an actor, I'm really just looking at the projects that I want to be a part of because they're challenging or they're funny or they're interesting, or they make me feel like something comes alive in me when I read them,” Beatriz tells Inverse. “I don't necessarily think about the fandom. I think more in terms of how is a human being going to respond to the thing that I'm taking part in creating.”
That’s what makes Hazbin Hotel so special: It’s a series that plays to its already huge fandom, but is simultaneously so full of enthusiasm and life in between the Easter eggs and lore that anyone will enjoy it.
“That's what makes a fandom exist at all,” Henningsen says. “People see themselves in the work and the characters, and that's such a joy for us because it feels full circle.”