The musical centers on two intertwining love stories loosely adapted from Greek mythology.
Praising the many virtues of Hadestown, the multi-award-winning musical by Anais Mitchell now playing at the Fisher Theatre, seems somehow insufficient. Commending the talented cast, the inventive set and lighting design and the imaginative songs cannot capture the overall feeling of hope this show evokes, despite its grim depiction of life in the underworld.
It is easy to see why Hadestown ruled the 73rd Tony Awards ceremony after its 2019 Broadway opening, earning 14 nominations and eight wins that included best musical, best book, lyrics and music (all by Mitchell) and best director, Rachel Chavkin, who was also Mitchell’s co-developer.
The musical skillfully combines mythology, romance, social commentary and psychological insight to create a show that is authentic and heartfelt. The musical centers on two intertwining love stories loosely adapted from Greek mythology. One is the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, an idealistic young man with a golden voice who sets out to rescue his true love, a nymph who has descended to the world below after dying from a snake bite. The other relationship involves Hades, ruler of the underworld, and his wife, Persephone, the goddess of spring and flowers.
In Hadestown, Eurydice (Morgan Siobhan Green), abandoned by Orpheus during the cold and barren winter, is lured to the underworld by Hades’ promise of a warm bed and a full stomach. Realizing she has gone, Orpheus (Nicholas Barasch) sets out on a perilous journey to bring her home. At the same time, Hades (Kevyn Morrow) and Persephone (Kimberly Marable) struggle as she becomes increasingly disillusioned with his elitism and growing power.
With ample acting talent and an exquisite singing voice, Green gives life to the feisty street waif who sacrifices love for a disastrous deal. True to the legend of Orpheus, Barasch imbues the character with boyish charm and an extraordinary voice that climbs to an ethereal falsetto and back again as he composes the song that will fix the world’s wrongs.
As the formidable Hades, Morrow is equally believable as a fearsome king and a vulnerable husband. His powerful baritone is most impressive in his rendition of “Why We Build the Wall,” a compelling and prescient song Mitchell wrote over a decade ago.
Marable is marvelous as the dark diva of the underworld who comes alive when spring returns to earth.
Acclaimed Broadway actor Levi Kreis, who originated the Jerry Lee Lewis role in “Million Dollar Quartet,” is Hermes, who provides entertaining commentary through song and narration while sporting a slick snakeskin suit.
Mitchell’s score, which also won a Grammy for best musical theater album, includes a mix of jazz, blues and ballads that provide the perfect vehicle for the characters to tell their stories. Seven onstage musicians add to the New Orleans vibe of the show created by Rachel Hauck’s Tony Award-winning set design. Lighting designer Bradley King also won a Tony Award for his innovative use of colored lighting to distinguish the fiery underworld switch from springtime on earth.
The show is further enriched by two distinct chorus groups: three multi-talented singers and musicians called the Fates, and a Workers’ Chorus, a five-member group of downtrodden underworld residents who provide a heartbreaking portrait of what happens to those who trade freedom for security.
While much of the story is a sad reflection of its grim setting, Hadestown manages to convey an overriding message of hope and love, something we can all use this holiday season and beyond.
All audience members must show proof of vaccination (or negative Covid test results) to enter the Fisher Theatre. Masks must be worn at all times inside the theater, regardless of vaccination status. Click here for more information about current Covid-19 protocols for all Broadway in Detroit events.
“Hadestown” runs through Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Ticket prices start at $39. For tickets or more information, call 313-872-1000 or visit broadwayindetroit.com.