Orpheus rises to the Occasion in Hadestown at the Orpheum Theatre

Photo by T Charles Erickson

I’m afraid I have forgotten most of the Mythology I learned in school, I didn’t remember the tales of Hades and Persephone or Orpheus and Eurydice. So if you were in the Orpheum Theatre Opening night of Hadestown and heard someone yell “NO!”, that was me. I didn’t know. I know better then to yell in a theater, but that’s how wrapped up I was in the story unfolding before me. Hadestown takes a couple of ancient mythological tales over 2,000 years ago and creates a wholly original piece of musical theatre. It’s easy to see why it took home eight Tony Awards in 2019 including Best New Musical. It’s one of those shows that feels like it’s doing something new and that’s always exciting. The songs are a mixture of blues and folk with hints industrial opera and musical theatre as channelled through the early 20th century. It sounds completely unique without sounding alien. The music, lyrics, and book are all by Anais Mitchell who has found a sound that perfectly matches the story and design of the production.

Hadestown is a story that is told by Hermes, a story he has told before and a story he will tell again. It starts with Orpheus, a poor boy, but he has a gift to give. A song that will make you see the world as it could be, rather than as it is. It’s about a girl, Eurydice who comes to town and has nothing but falls in love with the boy. It’s also about the God Hades and his wife Persephone who spends half her time in Hadestown and half in the upper world where she came from. Hades rules the underworld represented as an industrial factory where they build the wall. After Hades and Persephone have a fight, he heads to the above world and finds Eurydice, who is cold and hungry, and asks her to come to Hadestown where she will be warm and fed. Egged on by the Fates, she falls for it and gets a ticket on the road to hell. When Orpheus learns that Eurydice has gone to Hadestown, he goes there to find her to bring her home. But Hades is not in the habit of letting people go once they have signed a contract with him.

For Tuesdays performance The roles of Orpheus and Eurydice were performed by the understudies Chibueze Ihuoma and Sydney Parra. They were both great in the roles. Ihuoma had and impressive range in the role of Orpheus, the songs are set in a key one might associate with Frankie Valli, which he carries off brilliantly. Of note, as well are Levi Kreis as our narrator Hermes who has a lot of fun mugging to the audience and brings some impressive soulfulness to the vocals. Kimberly Marable and Kevyn Morrow as Persephone and Hades, get several big moments to shine, both are top notch vocalists. Marable gets to show of her physicality nicely in a couple of scenes and Morrow has great stage presence as the king of the underworld. Scenic Design by Rachel Nauck, Costume Design by Michael Krass and Lighting Design by Bradley King all play crucial roles. The production itself is really well done with all the departments clicking to create a unified whole.

Hadestown is a hell of a show, pun intended. It runs through March 20th at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis for more information and to purchase the few remaining tickets go to https://hennepintheatretrust.org/broadway/

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