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Head down to ‘Hadestown’

“Hadestown,” a Broadway musical adaptation of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, is currently on tour. One of our editors (Maddie) caught it with her sister (Claire) on Nov. 5 in Boston; read on for their thoughts. 

 

Claire

As a theater tech nerd, I have to point out the spectacular lighting in this show. The lights were beautiful and dynamic, creating a distinction between different settings such as the under- and over-world and between different moods and characters. I really enjoyed the unique lamps that swung over the stage during the song “Wait for Me.”

As for the set, I liked how most of the band was situated on stage. They were fun to watch, and it really brought you into the performance.  The turntable was also utilized very well in the choreography, and dry ice added to the overall dramatic effect of many scenes. An instance of this set change I loved was during the song “Wait for Me” to reflect Orpheus’ descent into the underworld.

One thing (out of many) I liked about this show was its use of silence. Whether it’s a pause with a turn to the audience at the end of a toast—“For the world we dream about … And the one we live in now”—or the tragic moment when Orpheus turns around, the cast made room for silence to really let the emotional weight of the scene set in. 

Some standouts in the cast for me were Nicholas Barasch as Orpheus, Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice, Kimberly Marable as Persephone and Levi Kreis as Hermes, as well as all five members of the ensemble. Their dancing and singing were both top-notch. Everyone embodied their characters so well, which is always a treat to watch.

I like how there’s not much dialogue in between songs, because this musical is sung-through. This keeps the momentum and excitement going throughout the show and keeps it interesting. Some of my favorite songs (although it’s hard to choose) were “Road to Hell,” “Any Way the Wind Blows,” “Come Home With Me,” “Way Down Hadestown,” “Chant,” “Wait for Me” (and its reprise) and “Why We Build the Wall.” Many of the lyrics contain heavy symbolism and foreshadowing, intertwining plot points and really bringing you into the story. This isn’t just a musical about Greek mythology though—many of the songs are metaphors about or commentary on topics like capitalism and climate change. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would really recommend it!

 

Maddie

In the rush to get to the theater and find our seats, I hadn’t considered what it would feel like to attend a live theater performance again. But the excitement kicked in when we saw the members of the band walk on stage, signaling the start of the show even before the house lights went down. I enjoyed seeing the band on stage instead of down in the pit; it was like they were inviting us to listen in on their jam session. We got to see the actors and the musicians themselves really enjoy the music they were playing, and everyone seemed to relish being able to play and listen to live music together again.

The set was just as beautiful as the theater itself, and it shifted to fit the tone of each scene. The walls of the set moved back to represent the expansion of Orpheus and Eurydice’s world. This was subtle and unnoticeable at first, echoing Orpheus’ gradual journey to the underworld. Another part of the moving set that I loved was the door that opened in the back to let Hades into the over-world. Bright lights shone through from behind the wall, and it was unclear, especially from our seats, what exactly Hades was walking out from, but I imagined a giant steam engine about to barrel through the now-flimsy-seeming walls of the over-world set. The opening of the door was accompanied by a deep rumbling noise, which added to the ominous feeling Hades brought with him when he entered a scene.

I agree with Claire’s standout picks; I wish there was a recorded version of the tour cast so I could relive Barasch’s clear falsetto and Siobhan Green’s powerful belt. The ensemble cast was phenomenal as well. They were only five members strong, but I think it was the perfect amount to tell the story—there were enough to signify the large numbers of workers in Hades’ factory, but I was also able to focus on individual ensemble members and empathize with their struggle. Also, as a dancer, I have to applaud the choreography. Like the rest of the show, it was simple but very effective and moving.

As someone who’s minoring in Social Justice and Social Policy (SJSP) and Climate Justice, Science and Policy (CJSP), I appreciated the story’s connections to climate change and capitalism, including how capitalism has laid the groundwork for climate change to occur. However, the references to these topics weren’t too heavy-handed—the show maintained a good balance between this commentary and the two love stories.

There were a couple moments of silence in the show that made me catch my breath. Of the thousands of people sitting in the audience, not one made a sound as we were spellbound by the artists telling this tale before us. Moments like these, when you can feel everyone around you experiencing the same feelings at the same instant that you are, are why I love live theater.

Overall, we had a great time and we recommend “Hadestown” to anyone in need of a new story to dive into, or even just some catchy songs about love and/or capitalism. “Hadestown” will be on tour in Boston until Nov. 14, but if you’re unable to catch it we encourage you to watch clips of the show or listen to the cast recording.

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