Review: Don’t Miss Hadestown

From top left clockwise Matthew Patrick Quinn, Lana Gordon, J. Antonio Rodriguez, Will Mann, Amaya Braganza and company in the Hadestown North American Tour 2023 (photo by T Charles Erickson)

Hadestown
Paramount Theatre
Through November 05, 2023

Hadestown is the Broadway smash hit whose story has been around for over 3,000 years. Retelling the ancient Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, and why the season’s change, the musical uses another myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as the catalysts. It explains, through the wonderful usage of Jazz and Blues music, how love can defeat anything, and while the story may be a tragedy, it is the joyous retelling that is celebrated.

The story begins in a bar – somewhere in New Orleans – where major figures of Greek mythology have gathered. The narrator is Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods, and he uses the representation of The Fates to retell the tale. Orpheus is a poor boy, locked in optimistic fantasy, and is working on the perfect song to help Spring return to the Earth. He falls in love with the pragmatic young girl named Eurydice, who sees the world for what it is. Their story is paralleled with the story of the gods, Hades and Persephone, whose powerful love story dictates the seasons. When Eurydice is charmed and tempted by the vast wealth of Hades, she makes a deal to prematurely go to the Underworld. Orpheus is distraught and vows to go to the Underworld to rescue his true love. He is armed only with his naiveite and the enchanted power of his song. On behalf of Persephone, the true love of Hades, the God of the Underworld allows the young couple to leave. Their faith and love are tested by a simple catch; Orpheus must lead and may NOT look back until they safely arrive back at the Overworld.

The orchestra is on stage, and is as much part of the show as the actors themselves. The group knows how to play, and with Emily Fredrickson (playing Trombone), they excel in the jazz style that is the bases of the musical. The cast of Hadestown all do an excellent job. They work together as a team, without trying to outshine anyone else around them. Hermes, played by Will Mann, is part narrator and part showman. It is through his eyes that the story is retold with compassion and humor. Mr. Mann’s persona works well as he weaves himself throughout the story. The three women playing The Fates (Marla Louissaint, Lizzie Markson, Hannah Schreer) are as incredible a trio as any ‘girl group’ in the past. All three ladies each allow their individual personalities to come through while working as a trio. Their voices harmonize beautifully. When they take the center stage, as in the song ‘When the Chips are Down’, all three of these Sirens complement each other.

There are two sets loving couples that parallel each other in many ways. Eurydice (played by Amaya Braganza) and Orpheus (played on opening night by Colin Lemoine), play the mortal couple that are so in love with each other, they defy the gods and death itself. Mr. Lemoine plays the naive Orpheus with charm. His voice is pleasant and innocently seductive. When he sings “Wait For Me”, we are collectively holding our breaths and reaching out for him. Ms. Braganza as Eurydice is fantastic. Her character goes on the furthest journey and takes the audience along with each step. Her voice is compassionate in “All I’ve Ever Known” and remorseful with the tender “Flowers”.

The juxtaposition for the mortal couple is the Olympian equivalent, Hades and Persephone. Matthew Patrick Quinn, as Hades, has a deeply rich voice rocks the audience with paternal charm. When he sings “Hey, Little Songbird” in an attempt to seduce Eurydice, we can easily see why she succumbs to his talents. Ms. Lana Gordon as Persephone, is a pure delight to watch. She takes on the carefree persona of Springtime and the passion it inspires. Her voice is part blues and mostly jazz in the style of a cabaret performer that will cast her musical spell. We celebrate along with her as she exudes charm in “Our Lady of the Underground”. When the two immortals sing their heartfelt duet, “How Long?”, the audience feels both their pain of their longing, and their concern that it might be too late to reconcile their love.

Hadestown is a beautiful show. The music and lyrics (and the book itself) are written by Anais Mitchell. The result is a haunting score that will stay with you for a long while after leaving the theatre.

Hadestown opened on Broadway on April 17, 2019 and it is still currently running there. Originally nominated for 14 Tony Awards, the show won eight including Best Musical and Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, as well as for Best Performance By an Actor in a Featured Role (André DeShields as Hermes). The Original Cast Recording also won a Grammy Award.

 

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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