At 14 Tony nominations, Hadestown demands to be seen. While I'm not sure it lives up to the extreme hype, it's still an excellent show.
Hadestown combines Greek Mythology with New Orleans Jazz. This juxtaposition works quite well. Shortly after Hamilton came out, we asked if Hip Hop musicals were going to be the next thing. That hasn't come to fruition, but Hadestown executes the premise of a classic tale with a non traditional music style quite well.
The music of the show is excellent. Anaïs Mitchell interweaves themes and foreshadows the upcoming tragedy well. Like the Wall or Tommy before it, this is as much a concept album as it is a musical. Songs have multiple parts that are reprised throughout the show. The show's theme Way Down Hadestown interweaves throughout the whole show.
Why We Build The Wall is by far the most timely show in the song. You'd be forgiven for assuming it's an indictment of the Trump Administration, however it was written in 2010. If anything, this is a reminder that building a wall has never been a good idea.
It's no surprise this show has several Great Comet alumni, the staging, lighting, and scenery are stunning. The transformation of the small New Orleans bar to the Underworld is breathtaking. To avoid spoilers I won't go too far into this, but this show is nothing if not visually impressive and leaves fans delighted.
It's pretty rare that the average theatergoer thinks to mention the lighting, but that's something I hear regularly when people recommend Hadestown.
For a musical based on a greek tragedy the plot was surprisingly weak. I was never really convinced that Orpheus was a character worth caring about. We keep hearing that he is writing this beautiful song, but we never hear a song (from him) that lives up to the hype.
I was much sadder for Eurydice than I ever was for Orpheus. She's the one actually going through all the trauma, Orpheus is just the mediocre spouse.
While the themes and lyrics surrounding the titular Hadestown are beautiful, I still don't understand why the wall was being built, what motivates Hades or really anything deeper. The narrative around corporate America: automobiles, oil drums, and electricity feel very tacked on to the story. Why have a crack in the wall if you're not going to tear down the wall?
One thing I found really interested was the American Gods approach to mythology. We never see any real magic, to the point where the Gods are simply larger than life, rather than mythical figures.
There are a couple of roles I need to call out. I was fortunate enough to see Jessie Shelton (understudy) perform as Eurydice. I wager her performance as Eurydice was so strong it ruined orpheus. I believed every amount of stress and sadness she conveyed.
André De Shields brings a swagger to Hermes never seen before. As the narrator he manages to be one of the most interesting characters on stage. I loved the way he bookends the show with Road to Hell.
While I didn't find the character hades terribly interesting, Patrick Page has one of the most powerful voices I've ever heard. When the soundtrack is released this summer, I wouldn't be surprised if the average listener mistakes him for James Earl Jones.
Overall this was a really great show, although maybe not 14 Tony's good. I'm really interested to see how this year's award season plays out.