Reasons to see ‘Hadestown’ on Broadway
The road to hell has never been so heavenly at Anaïs Mitchell's Tony Award-winning Best Musical, which puts a modern, jazzy spin on classic Greek mythology.
"Don’t look back" can be excellent advice. It certainly applies to the plot of the dazzling Hadestown, the 2019 Best Musical Tony winner drawn from Greek mythology. In the show, a backward glance by Orpheus at his love Eurydice during their journey out of the underworld spells disaster. After all, he’d been commanded to keep his eyes off the prize – namely, her.
But here’s the thing: Rearview glances can also be a good thing, and Hadestown is all the proof you need. By looking back at ancient stories and finding new ways to tell them, the show’s creators give theatre audiences a thrilling musical experience.
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Hadestown squeezes fresh juice from an old love story.
Even before Shakespeare noted that “the course of true love never did run smooth,” the Greeks had already been there, observed that in myths that merged the lives of gods and mortals. Anaïs Mitchell, who wrote the show’s book, lyrics, and music, hasn’t gotten rid of the almighty gods. But the focus feels fixed on a human level – and all the desires and fallibility that goes with it – and the story resonates all the more eloquently.
The gist is that Orpheus must travel to the underworld, here a soulless sweatshop where Eurydice's trapped, to rescue and finally be with her. Both Eurydice, who’s desperate to survive, and Orpheus, whose mind is muddy with uncertainty, make bad decisions borne of out of their fraught situations along the way. Relatable? You bet. The show hits home.
Hadestown has a wondrous watercooler moment.
In a musical filled with memorable songs that play out in a mix of folk, pop, blues, and Dixieland flavors, Hadestown’s crackerjack score really does contain a remarkable prize — a shining moment you can’t stop thinking or talking about that actually brands the show.
That is, of course, “Wait for Me,” the gorgeous and insistent number in which Orpheus pledges his devotion to Eurydice. It’s a blissful blend of music, staging, and performance that builds to summon next-level emotions.
The scene is accompanied by overhead lamps that sway hypnotically in director Rachel Chavkin’s production. Each time I’ve seen the scene on stage, I imagine the concept of "the lightbulb moment" must’ve inspired it. You have to see it live to fully appreciate it.
Hadestown showcases the power of the ensemble.
Depending on how you view it, choosing your favorite performer is either a snap or impossible. That’s because it’s whoever’s in the spotlight at any given moment. The whole cast has great material to milk as they breathe life into their characters.
Beyond the lovers, there’s Hades, who rules the underworld with an iron fist, and his wife Persephone, who’s willing to go to bat for young lovers as she considers what’s become of her own marriage. Hermes is a garrulous guide who regularly breaks the fourth wall to keep the audience up to speed. Tight harmonies emerge from the trio of Fates, while dancers who work up a sweat as hellish worker bees spark a buzz of their own.
Get tickets to Hadestown on Broadway.
Hadestown began with a 2006 concept and took its time to evolve on its road to hell — that is, to Broadway. Looking forward, it’s built to last. See for yourself at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Get Hadestown tickets now.
Photo credit: Hadestown on Broadway. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
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