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Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre

Tony Award Winning Smash Hadestown National Tour

Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre


Music, Lyrics and Book by Anaïs Mitchell

Developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin

Orpheum Theatre

There are national touring productions and then there's Hadestown at the Orpheum, a thrilling, inventive, impeccably crafted show that is serving to shape a new paradigm for Broadway musicals. Recognized with eight Tony awards, it's similar in impact to Rent or Hamilton in its innovative score, staging and social importance. Using the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice as a starting point, Hadestown is imbued with timely social criticism that bridges the worlds of the Gods and mortals, those currently abusing power, and the rest of us.

Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre
Nicholas Barasch (Orpheus) and company

Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell had the vision to use the fateful love stories of Orpheus and Eurydice as well as the myth of Hades, God of the Underworld, and his captive wife Persephone to create a dark vision of a post-apocalyptic Depression-era America woefully out of balance with nature. The non-show-tune score has a feel of New Orleans jazz/blues mixed with Caribbean influences. There are pop and folk influences as well with lyrics that narrate the story providing exposition.

Every element of this production is exemplary starting with Rachel Chavkin's (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) remarkable direction. The underworld has requisite smoke and deep hued red and purple lighting, its robotic slave labor force dressed in leather and steampunk eye goggles. Above-ground is straight out of Streetcar Named Desire with Scenic Designer Rachel Hauck's wood bordered stucco walls and iron filigree railings.

Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre
Levi Kreis (Hermes) and company

David Neumann's choreography is an exciting mix of modern, robotic and a jive step. The score is delivered onstage (except for drums) by Music Director Liam Robinson with cast members assisting on accordion, violin, electric guitar, and tambourine. Bradley King's lighting is almost a character itself, moving us through emotional turns with stunning delicacy and ferocious highlighting. A first act scene where Orpheus travels to the underworld was breathtaking in its staging, one of many mind-blowing moments.

Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre
Nicholas Barasch (Orpheus) and Morgan Siobhan Green (Eurydice)

Not having witnessed the Broadway run, I can't imagine a better ensemble cast. Reprising her original role is Kimberely Marable as the sassy, Persephone who steals every scene she's in. Tony winner Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet) is Hermes, who acts as the show's narrator. Keyvyn Morrow (The Color Purple, Moulin Rouge!) lends his deep baritone to his role as King Hades, the sinister, controlling God of the underworld.

Our fateful heroes are played by Morgan Siobhan Green (Be More Chill) as Eurydice and the award-winning Nicholas Barasch (The Mystery of Edward Drood, She Loves Me) as Orpheus. She's seen a lot in her day and is skeptical and jaded when confronted by Orpheus' naïve and forthright passion. Barasch's Orpheus is sweet, innocent and a touch quirky. From these ancient myths and legends, through Shakespeare lovers to Mitchell's vision, star-crossed lovers are wonderfully imagined here.

Eurydice's nomadic nature is introduced in "Any Way the Wind Blows," singing of the change in the climate, hunger, and the impending storms to come. Persephone, Orpheus, Hermes, and the company have a rousing dance number in "Livin' it Up on Top," a celebration of the impending approach of Spring brought by Persephone's arrival from the underground every six months. Written around the time of Bush's re-election, the dirge-like tune "Why We Build the Wall", in which Hades extols the need to separate the Have's and the Have Nots, couldn't be more prescient to Trump's 2016 divisive rhetoric. Three very talented Fates (Belen Moyano, Bex Odorisio and Shea Renne) add to the ensemble either warning or goading the characters.

Review: HADESTOWN at Orpheum Theatre
Orpheus (Nicholas Barasch) descends to the Underworld

Hadestown takes us on a mythical journey where love is either found, lost, re-found, or doubted. We all seem to have fascinations with stories about anthropomorphized Gods and perhaps it makes them seem more human or us more Godlike. Hadestown's strength is its strong social messages of industry vs nature evidenced by climate change, social injustice, and wealth inequality. Its not jammed down our throats and never gets too dogmatic, but is beautifully realized through the strong score and staging.

This soaring production of Hadestown is must-see theatre at its finest. It transplants you to a brilliantly conceived world that is both imagined yet totally rooted in human nature - our basest evils and lofty virtues revealed.

Hadestown runs through July 3rd, 2022. Tickets can be purchased by calling 888-746-1799.

Photo Credits: T Charles Erickson


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