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Student Blog: Hadestown at the Kennedy Center

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The touring company of Hadestown is no joke. I highly recommend to anyone who is able, to go and see the show when it comes to a city near you.

In case you missed it, live theatre is back and better than ever! This means in particular, Hadestown gets to start its tour and I was lucky enough to be able to see it at their first stop. All day I was beaming with excitement. I hadn't seen a live performance in two years due to the shutdown and this show definitely made the wait feel worthwhile.

Some may think this is surprising, but I have not listened to the cast album. I did this in hopes that I would be able to see some form of the show and just enjoy it as something brand new. I wouldn't be able to compare it to anything or try to nitpick similarities and differences, and I'm so glad I did that.

Of course, I've seen small clips and heard the well-known "Wait For Me," but other than that, the only knowledge I had of the show was the story, some random facts, the number of Tony nominations and wins, and that everyone said it was incredible. I'm here to tell you, it certainly was incredible. Hadestown is unlike any other show I've seen and you can easily tell why it has succeeded so much already.

Off the bat, the set design is amazing - at first, it may seem sort of simplistic, but then as it continues to transform throughout the show, you see how detailed and purposeful each piece is. I absolutely loved the way the set transitioned from a casual New Orleans-style bar or restaurant to the factory. My favorite piece would, of course, have to be the train opening in the center upstage. Something about this sort of "void" opening to Hadestown was so mesmerizing and I got excited whenever it opened up. The revolving stage is also one of my favorite pieces added to any show since it gives an extra element of movement when space can be limited. With that, the choreography to go with the revolving stage was done so well. The workers moving cyclically, the parallels formed between characters across the platform, and the treks the characters made were all executed so intentionally and, again, purposefully, while utilizing the revolving element. You can also see how the lighting signifies each situation and character. The contrasts between the blue and red lighting stood out to me the most, especially during Hades and Persephone's "How Long?" There is a reason why all of these elements were so highly spoken of.

Costuming is another piece that puts this show together, and it was done so well for this unique take on the mythological story. The stark contrast between Persephone's bright green dress and black dress really encapsulates not only the moods of Hadestown and above the ground, but also seems to represent Persephone's mood. Above the ground, she is light, bright, and bubbly; down below, she is more muted and closed off. Her wigs also help represent this idea - above the ground, her hair is free and has a bright accessory; down below, her hair is kept in a net and has a black accessory. Those contrasts can also be seen between Orpheus and Hades. Orpheus wears mostly white and has more free-flowing clothes and Hades has dark business-like clothing. The way Eurydice moves her clothing is also very telling of her mood, similar to Persephone. At first, she wears a large coat to show how she is closed off and protective of herself. Then, as she starts to open up, she removes that big coat off her back so that she can move more freely and be more comfortable. Hermes and The Fates had similar grey and silver coloring as if they were more in the middle of above and under the ground. And the differences between the ensemble members' regular clothing and factory clothing was very telling of the freeness and the restrictiveness between the two places. I could continue to go on about the symbolism of each of the costumes, but overall, the costuming was absolutely amazing.

I can't forget about the extraordinary cast either. These performers were perfectly suited for their roles and truly proved why they were there. Nicholas Barasch presented Orpheus in a way I didn't expect and executed it so well. Being the son of a muse, Orpheus was given a certain light from Barasch that made his character sweet and funny. There were multiple times during the performance that the audience was laughing at his one-liners and I love that he presented those lines in a way that could make us laugh, since the majority of the show was rather serious. His voice is also unlike any other. The difficult high voice of Orpheus seemed so effortless coming from Nicholas, I was beyond blown away. And, he complimented Morgan Siobhan Green's Eurydice so well. She presented her character in a way that made you feel so sad for Eurydice, but she also had an independent fire to her. The transformation of her character throughout the show is done so well too. You see the closed off version in the beginning, and then she grows as Orpheus helps her along the way. Her voice was also amazing, showing Eurydice's sense of urgency, hiding her sorrow, but also being very powerful.

Kimberly Marable gave an unforgettable performance as Persephone. There were so many layers to the character and Marable presented each piece so carefully and beautifully. You see the struggles Persephone battles with even when she is this exciting light to others. The dynamics Marable showed gave her character such depth, which some may have not thought Persephone had at first. Of course, her voice is so unique and bold it really rounded out her phenomenal performance. Then there is Kevyn Morrow, who gave us such a chilling performance as Hades. But similar to Kimberly Marable, he showed that there was more to Hades than just a cold leader of the underground. The powerful low voice was not only incredible, but there was also a trace of sadness and longing underneath it. Morrow's Hades showed that Persephone was the most important person to him, the character just didn't always know how to show it, and that struggle was perfectly portrayed.

We can't forget about the wonderful Levi Kreis, who gave us such an interesting take on Hermes. It was apparent that he was constantly looking out for Orpheus, but there also seemed to be some hint of darkness when he threw us off, showing Eurydice the way to Hadestown away from Orpheus. Kreis showed that Hermes was not just the messenger, but also a key player in Orpheus and Eurydice's story. His performance was absolutely exceptional, along with what seemed to be some sort of twang in his voice, Hermes was given this whole persona I was not expecting and it was so enjoyable to watch.

Along with Hermes, the Fates - Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne - were also amazing key players in this tragic love story. I can't write a whole review and not talk about how the Fates also played instruments while they performed, I mean, how impressive is that!? Besides the instruments and the fabulous and diverse voices each of the Fates had, they made sure that these characters stood out and it was made obvious that they were essential to the story. Our other essential characters are our ensemble members. I cannot stress enough how much an ensemble makes the show the amazing production that it is. The energy this cast had was just so amazing and it would not have been the same show without this talented group of individuals. I loved watching the story be told with them, it truly would not have been the same without them. Additionally, I have to give a shout out to the band who not only did incredibly, but were also incorporated into the show on stage. I love when the band is recognized as part of the cast and not just an addition to make everything sound cool. Staging this group above the pit is only another element that elevates the performance even more and I'm so glad it was done that way.

Overall, this show was absolutely immaculate and there is nothing that can compare to it. I could honestly continue to go on and list every detail I noticed and analyzed, but that would be a very long read for you. I am just so grateful I was able to see this talented company with my sister and her grandmother, and I loved being able to show them why I love theatre so much. The touring company of Hadestown is no joke. I highly recommend to anyone who is able, to go and see the show when it comes to a city near you, you won't want to miss it.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Olivia Murray