After a Miscarriage, Robyn Hurder Went Back to Broadway — and No One Knew the Pain She Endured

Robyn Hurder, Tony-nominated for Moulin Rouge!, left the show when she learned she was pregnant; she tells PEOPLE about rebuilding — and returning to Broadway — following a devastating loss

Photo: Robyn Hurder/Instagram; Avery Brunkus

Dancing the "El Tango De Roxanne" each night in Broadway's Moulin Rouge! The Musicalwas already a vulnerable and emotional moment for Robyn Hurder.

Donning a corset and fishnet tights, the dancer was tossed between multiple men on stage at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where audiences are transported to the gritty Parisian underground at the turn of the 20th century. Hurder's performance as one of the nightclub's bohemian inhabitants earned her a Tony Award nomination and critical acclaim.

The actress's final performance on Feb. 20 was particularly heightened. About two weeks earlier, she underwent a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure after miscarrying in her first trimester.

Avery Brunkus

"There's a moment where The Duke pulls me, and he pushes me down the runway, and it's that moment where everyone's standing up, and everyone's screaming for you. And I take a final bow, and I'm crying because I feel all this energy and this love, but I'm [thinking], 'I can't believe I'm leaving,' " Hurder tells PEOPLE, recalling the moment through tears. "You have no idea that I just lost a baby."

Despite the physical demands of playing Nini, Hurder had no intention of leaving Moulin Rouge! before her contract was up — until she and her husband, fellow actor Clyde Alves, learned on New Year's Day they were expecting their second child. The two share 8-year-old son Hudson.

"I found out on my 40th birthday. I panicked because Moulin Rouge! is not the kind of show that you would be the most comfortable getting pregnant in," she says, noting the show's form-fitting costumes and corsets as well as its athletic choreography factored into the decision to plan her exit.

"I knew that I had to immediately tell my producers, which was extremely hard for me because this is such a sacred moment. Usually, you want to have those magical few weeks, just you and your partner."

Robyn Hurder/Instagram

Hurder says she was trying to be respectful of her company by giving Moulin Rouge! enough time to hire a replacement and teach the actress the show before she departed. But not everyone in the company knew the real reason behind her earlier-than-anticipated goodbye.

"I was leaving for something so beautiful, so wonderful; it was such a dream," she says. "The one thing that was killing me is that no one knew, and I felt they all thought I was leaving because, in my mind, I was weak."

Hurder was actually stronger than she could have ever imagined, persevering at a time she's called "one of the worst" of her life. At her eight-week pregnancy appointment, she learned that there was no longer a heartbeat for her unborn baby, who doctors said stopped developing around five-and-a-half weeks.

"You go almost dead inside," Hurder explains. "I've been a mother, and you still go to that place. You start planning your life." Then, she says, "It just got taken away. And you think, 'Now what?' I just had to leave my job, and you don't get that back."

At that point, she still had a few performances left at Moulin Rouge!; however, her exit was already in place at a time when Broadway is still recovering from the monumental 18-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I immediately had to decide what I was going to do. And it's just so stressful because I have to perform in this role that is so exposing in every single way," she continues. "The fact that I had been performing with something dead inside me for three weeks really messed me up."

Clyde Alves/Instagram

The baby's due date was last week, Sept. 17. Instead of celebrating a new addition to her family, Hurder is grappling with mixed emotions. It was announced earlier this month that she would be coming back to Broadway this fall in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical, this time in her first starring role on the Main Stem.

"This is so big. But being very honest, I broke down when they announced it because I'm like, I should be so laid out on the couch, 39 weeks pregnant," she says candidly. "It made me want to run."

"I try to tell myself, you're not supposed to be pregnant. 'You were pregnant. You were going to have a baby.' But the universe said, 'Wait a minute, you have to do this first.' "

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Robyn Hurder/Instagram

Hurder is both scared and hopeful as she looks toward the future. "I do want a baby and — sorry," she says, tearing up, "I'm terrified I'm not gonna be able to have one. ... My son asks me every other day if he can have a sibling, and you know how hard that is?"

When asked about her new starring role on Broadway, she says the exact same words: "I'm terrified." She adds, "I'm scared because I love it."

Still, she says she'll continue putting her faith in something greater. "We manifest our lives, and I'm like, 'Girl, you did it.' And that's the one thing about the universe. You cannot mess with its timing. It won't allow you to. Even when you try to make something happen when you want it to happen, it's never gonna happen because it's divine timing. And that's why it's comforting in a way that I'm like, 'I trust this.' "

Since losing the baby, Hurder has been very open with her social media following in hopes that her experience will help others who have gone through or are going through a similar situation.

After all, she says, "It is so common. It's one in four. Nobody talks about it because, what, it's not happy? Cause it's not positive? This is so real, and so many women are part of this sad club. But if I can use my little, tiny voice on social media to maybe help women who feel like they can't talk about it, talk about it, that to me is success."

"It's not getting another Broadway show," she adds. "It's helping others."

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