Francesca and I saw *Hadestown* on Broadway on 1/8/20. It won the Tonys for Best Musical and Best Score last spring - - I wasn't impressed with the number I saw on the Tony Awards show, so I thought I'd let it slide. But then Francesca saw it a few weeks ago and raved about it. I trust her opinion, so I bought a ticket. I'm so glad I did because the show was AMAZING.
*Hadestown* is a musical with music, lyrics, and book by Anaïs Mitchell, a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. It's rare that I see a show where all of the elements work together so beautifully - - the music, the story, the performances, the arrangements, the design, the choreography, the staging, it was all woven together in such a powerful and thoughtful way. The show had serious momentum and still gave the audience to applaud like mad at the end of each number.
André De Shields played the pseudo narrator, Hermes. He walked onstage wearing a sleek silver suit, greeted the five members of the chorus, positioned himself on the side of the stage and unbuttoned his jacket. Oh dear Lord, I will never forget that! Without a word or a note of music, he unbuttoned his jacket with such grace and style that the audience burst into applause! Thrilling. De Shields won the Tony for Best Featured Actor, and he was delightful.
Amber Gray and Patrick Page were the other two standouts, as Persephone and Hades. Gray had a raw, desperate glamour and a particular way of moving and dancing. She completely took over when she was onstage. I'm not sure this was intentional, but she reminded me of a young Eartha Kitt, the same mixture of defiance and sparkle. I saw Page in *Casa Valentina,* he knocked me out in that - - he was even more impressive in this show, his part was written to utilize his booming, growly bass voice. He did comparatively little singing, but spoke with great flavor and musicality. He was also nominated for the Best Featured Actor Tony, and his character has a much stronger dramatic progression, but I think De Shields won because his performance was so full of beauty and style. De Shields had an unfair advantage playing a character that the audience loves!
Eva Noblezada was lovely as Eurydice, such a tender and powerful performance. The love story between her character and the Orpheus character wasn't so well developed, but it made sense because she was so compelling. Reeve Carney was the one disappointment of the leads. He played Orpheus and his singing annoyed me, he was way too precious and indulgent. Francesca made the valid point that each of the leads had very different types of voices, and Carney was one of the colors in that palette. Also that he was always in tune and has very strong technique, remarkable control over his falsetto in particular. All of which are very good points!
Maybe the star of the show was the direction by Rachel Chavkin. I mentioned that all of the elements of the show were beautifully calibrated, that was her doing. The momentum of the show was of course based in the score and the book, but I imagine she gets some of the credit for that, too. But the most impressive thing about her production was the way she played the audience, the way she led us to small and large destinations. The first number of the show introduced each of the main characters, introduced by De Shields. The audience applauded when De Shields said the character's name, not when the actor walked onstage. This might seem like a slight thing, but it really says a lot about how masterfully Chavkin directed the show.
The show is scored for a seven-piece band, who sits onstage throughout the show. Major kudos to trombone player Brian Drye who was freaking FIERCE in his solos. He tore the joint apart.
The show casts a very powerful spell. By the end you realize that it’s not just infused with the magic of the theatre, it’s ABOUT the magic of the theatre.