Quote of the Day: Easy is the way down to the underworld: by night and by day dark Hades’ door stands open; but to retrace one’s steps and to make a way out to the upper air, that’s the task, that is the labour. Virgil
Hadestown (music, book and lyrics by Anaïs Mitchell) is a fresh and dynamic musical with stunning music, dancing and staging. I was truly wowed by this production. Winner of eight Tony Awards (and 14 nominations) including Best Musical, Best Director, and Best Performance by an actor (Andre DeShields) Hadestown went from a DIY community theater project in 2006-2007, an album recording in 2010, to development with Director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet) and premiered on Broadway on April 17, 2019. Proof that it takes much stamina, perseverance, and cooperation to get a show from concept to critical acclaim. And, it shows on stage.
Hadestown blends the stories of Hades and Persephone with Orpheus’ journey to the underworld to bring back his love, Eurydice. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten everything you ever (or never) knew about Greek myths. The storytellers help you out. Hermes (Levi Kreis) acts as the narrator as he wakes the characters and the audience and draws them quickly into the scene. Hades (Kevyn Morrow) sits on his throne with his bride Persephone (Kimberly Marable) at his side. She represents spring and growth. When she is in the underworld with Hades, it is dark, winter, and dormant. So, for half the year, she stays with him. The other half, she goes back above ground and we get spring!
For the performance that I attended, Sydney Parra played Eurydice and Chibueze Ihuoma played Orpheus. Eurydice represented to me the downtrodden, the homeless and hungry. Orpheus is young and innocent. He has a burning desire to write the perfect song that will make all wrongs right. When he sees Eurydice, he immediately falls in love with her and claims her as his muse. Eurydice is lured to the underworld by Hades who promises to give her a sense of belonging, food, and shelter. Orpheus feverishly writes his song, then follows his love, hoping Hades will set her free. As the quote says, above, getting to the underworld is easy, returning to the light takes hard work, trust, and confidence in yourself.
The music of Hadestown is jazzy and sensual, at times it felt like New Orleans style mixed with a few ballads and heart-thumping big numbers. The musicians are all onstage, except for the drummer. The trombone player (Audrey Ochoa) comes out to interact with the characters during one of the songs in Act I. I love watching the musicians. The piano player/conductor Cody Owen Stine was excellent, as were all the musicians and the entire ensemble cast. The choreography (by David Neumann) is stunning and integral in telling this story. Every move in this production seems carefully planned. The Fates: Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne are superb. Their voices blend like fine-tuned instruments and their expression from the swing of their hips to the glint in their eyes captivate you.
Chibueze Ihuoma plays a sweet, yet determined Orpheus, so believable and determined. Also, he’s a fine guitarist. Sydney Parra as Eurydice is scrappy and determined, yet broken and lost. She fit her part so well. Kevyn Morrow’s deep voice as Hades sends a chill down your spine as it thrills you and puts you under his spell. Kimberly Marable as Persephone claims the stage, a force to be reckoned with, think hurricane in a green dress with a voice that shreds. Levi Kreis has that devil-may-care look in his eyes, like a TV evangelist, luring you in, begging you to lean in just a little closer, he’s got a story to share with you.
If you’re in the Minneapolis area this week, get down to the Orpheum Theater (Hennepin Theater Trust) and see this show, here through March 20. Or, look for a tour stop near you on the Hadestown Tour website. If you miss it this time around, don’t worry, I expect this show to be around a long time.
The entire creative team from the gorgeous costumes (Michael Krass) to lighting design (Bradley King – watch out for some blinding moments – work to make this a fantastic production. To read more about the creative process and its creator Anaïs Mitchell, visit her website.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What do you know about Greek mythology? Who are some of your favorite characters or stories about the gods?