HADESTOWN (National Tour): To hell and back

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

What with the solar eclipse and an earthquake, we—sophisticated, scientific, blasé—are in a perfect position to imagine what ancient, primitive people must have thought and felt when the ground shook and the lights went out. The need to explain these phenomena gave us the myths that were created to make sense of it all. One of the most intriguing is the story of Hades who ruled the underworld. 

Adding to the show’s uncanny prescience is a song “Why We Build the Wall” with its terrifying refrain, “My children, my children”  as Hades explains to the slave workers in Hell the need to keep the poor out, 

Hadestown, with music, lyrics and book by Anais Mitchell, weaves two myths together: Hades (the superb and seductive Matthew Patrick Quinn) is married to Persephone (Lana Gordon, oddly sassy and funny) who returns to him for half the year after bringing Springtime back to earth. But times are tough on earth; enter Eurydice (Amaya Braganza), cold and hungry.  She and Orpheus (John Krause), the greatest of mortal musicians, fall in love, although he is so focused on his art the  that he neglects her cries for help as she is lured into the underworld of death.

 Eventually Orpheus tracks her down and they, with Persephone’s help, persuade Hades to let them return to life but only if Orpheus trusts her and refrains from looking back. But “Doubt Comes In,” a great song about the destroyer of happiness, and all is lost.

All this is narrated by Hermes (Will Mann), aided by the three terrific Fates (Marla Louissaint, Lizzie Markson, Hannah Schreer). The show’s company is a crew of wild, strong, energetic dancers (choreography by David Neumann) and the spectacular lighting (Bradley King) takes us to hell and back. The onstage musicians are heroic.

[Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street] April 10-14, 2024; ensembleartsphilly.org; hadestown.com


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