The underworld has never been so hot. The first national tour of Hadestown, the eight-time award-winning musical by Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin, opened last night, Wednesday February 9, at the Kimmel Cultural Campus Music Academy and will continue through until Sunday, February 20. The musical is inspired by several stories from Greek mythology, with the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice at its heart. While we may know the ultimate fate of these lovers, Hadestown’s beautiful storytelling, upbeat music, and sweeping narrative have you hoping against hope that this time, somehow, it will will end differently.
The musical opens with a setting resembling a steamy New Orleans jazz club, made even more authentically immersive by the exceptional musicians who remain on stage throughout the show. We follow our charming and predictive narrator Hermes (Levi Kreis) as he takes us into the world of Hadestown. We are introduced to Orpheus (Nicholas Barasch), son of a muse with a song in his heart, and Eurydice (Morgan Siobhan Green), a cold, hungry traveler whom Orpheus instantly falls in love with. We learn of the feisty Persephone (Kimberly Marable), who spends half the year above ground in the world of the living, and the other half below alongside her husband, Hades (Kevyn Morrow ), ruler of the underworld. As the world of Orpheus and Eurydice grows increasingly harsh and cold, Eurydice is soon tempted by the supposed warmth and safety offered by Hades and ventures into the Underworld. Orpheus follows her on the way to hell.
Audiences aren’t so swept away by these characters’ journey into the underworld that they slowly and ominously descend there, thanks to the brilliance of Rachel Hauk’s stage design. Figures are drawn from the brooding, amber liveliness of the world above ground, to the warmth and darkness below, guided by Bradley King’s innovative lighting design. Michael Krass’ costume design similarly informs the story, expressing the characters’ dreary chill above ground and coal-covered sweat below. Hadestown’s music (arranged and orchestrated by Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, and conducted by Cody Owen Stine) is one moment of spooky beauty after another, a mesmerizing blend of jazz, folk and more .
The score is sung and performed with expert musicality by each of the cast members. The incredible magnetism and vocal control of Levi Kreis as Hermes demands the audience’s attention as soon as he takes the stage, Nicholas Barasch as Orpheus is a beautiful storyteller and sings like an angel, and Morgan Siobhan Green brings raw emotion and power to Eurydice. Kevyn Morrow has the gravitas needed for the role of Hades, and Kimberly Marable is a standout as Persephone, putting sanity, joy, grief and expression into not just every song, but every move she makes. do. Belen Moyano, Bex Odorisio and Shea Renne as the Fates blend together as harmoniously as three strings played on the same violin. The set is equally fantastic, driving the story forward through a wonderful take on David Neumann’s choreography.
Hadestown is a work of art, creative, visually and aurally stunning, thrilling and heartbreaking. This musical may take you down the road to hell and back, but the journey there is a lot like heaven.
For tickets to Hadestown at the Kimmel Cultural Campus Music Academy, click HERE!