Review: HADESTOWN Captivates Edmonton

Through November 19th

By: Nov. 16, 2023
Review: HADESTOWN Captivates Edmonton

At first, the fates seem to smile upon bumbling busboy Orpheus and impish vagrant Eurydice. Though the couple barely has two coins to rub together, they are determined to weather any storm that comes their way. However, as harsh winter threatens and the claws of poverty tighten, the unsuspecting Eurydice is offered a choice by Hades himself: end her earthly struggles and join him in the underworld. Eurydice accepts, leaving the distraught Orpheus to pursue her into the depths of Hell.

Even before its 2019 Broadway opening, Hadestown captured the hearts of audiences across the globe. It enjoyed a successful stint at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in 2017 and now takes centre stage at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium until November 19. The winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score, Hadestown whisks audiences away on a hauntingly beautiful journey to the crossroads of mortality and eternity. 

The curtain rises on a shabby, wood-paneled bar brimming with singing patrons. We are immediately introduced to the silver-clad narrator, who is none other than the mischievous messenger god, Hermes (Will Mann). Throughout the infectiously catchy opener, Road to Hell, Hermes introduces the musical’s other key players: Orpheus (J. Antonio Rodriguez), Eurydice (Amaya Braganza), Hades (Matthew Patrick Quinn), and Persephone (Lana Gordon). Through subsequent musical vignettes, Orpheus and Eurydice quickly fall in love and promise to stay true to each other forever. However, the Fates- played by Marla Louissaint, Lizzie Markson, and Hannah Schreer- have other plans up their billowing sleeves. 

From start to finish, Hadestown is truly music to the ears. Anaïs Mitchell’s jazz-infused score is more than deserving of its Tony Award, featuring eerie harmonies and a soulful onstage band. Each cast member showcases impressive vocal pipes; Rodriguez’s airy falsetto and Quinn’s velvety bass are especially delightful to listen to. Quinn's magnetic rendition of Hey, Little Songbird is a crowd-pleaser, as is Gordon’s energetic version of Persephone’s sassy Act II solo, Our Lady of the Underground. 

However, the show is not without flaws. The electric yellow lights flashing during Orpheus’s descent into the underworld (Wait for Me) are nearly blinding, detracting significantly from the otherwise powerful scene. Some of the lyrics and dialogue are overly repetitive, occasionally bringing the plot to a standstill. 

Despite these foibles, Hadestown still lives up to its glowing acclaim. Rodriguez and Braganza are charming in their portrayal of the star-crossed Orpheus and Eurydice and are the beating heart of this unconventional, unforgettable story. Even the most reluctant theatergoers will find much to admire in this dazzling Broadway blockbuster.  

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson