Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham
The story is about the ancient myth of Orpheus (sung beautifully by Nicholas Barasch), who travels to the Underworld ruled by Hades (Kevyn Morrow) to bring his love, Eurydice (a delightful Moran Siobhan Green), to the mortal world. This telling is narrated by the god Hermes (the amazingly talented Levi Kreis). Orpheus begins a courtship with Eurydice while Hades's wife Persephone (a hauntingly irresistible Kimberly Marable), tired of life in Hadestown, has come up from the Underworld to enjoy the mortal life (bringing spring with her).
Hades wishes he had someone to appreciate the insulated but efficient city he has built below. And he eventually comes across Eurydice, who has become weakened by cold, starvation, and neglect from Orpheus. Tempted by the Fates (Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne), she agrees to go "way down under the ground" with Hades, where he takes her memory and puts her to work building his walled city.
Determined to get her back, Orpheus learns from Hermes how to get to Hadestown. Once there, he sings a song of such beauty that it convinces Hades to allow for Eurydice's return, but on one condition: Orpheus must lead her out, and if he turns around to confirm she's still behind him, she will return to the underworld to remain forever.
Following on the footsteps of another beautifully and critically acclaimed directed musical, Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 , Rachel Chavkin has proven herself as one of the leading directors of our time. Her keen eye is as innovative as it is imaginative. All the creatives behind the scenes are just as worthy of praise. Special mention must be made of Rachel Hauck's scenic design, which is as innovative as it is simplistic. Bradley King's lighting design provides effective mood, playing off both light and shadow. Anaïs Mitchell's music brings a fresh new sound to the musical theater genre, effectively blending multiple styles from New Orleans jazz to traditional folk. The music evokes celebratory joy one moment and turns to aching longing in another.
Levi Kreis fills the shoes of the legendary André De Shields, who won the Tony for his portrayal of Hermes. Mr. Kreis is also a Tony winner, for his portrayal of the great piano man Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical Million Dollar Quartet. His Southern soul background makes him a fitting inheritor of the role of Hermes. Special mention also goes to Belén Moyano, Bex odorisio, and Shea Renne as the Fates. Their harmonies blend effortlessly, making three voices sounds like one.
Though the myth is a tragedy in the proper sense, Hadestown nonetheless stresses the importance of hope, and it weaves in a moral message that feels quite fitting for our times. May we learn to break down our own walls that we think keep us safe, and realize the beauty that awaits us if we only take a chance.
Hadestown, presented by Truist Broadway, runs through February 27, 2022, at Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St. Durham, NC. For tickets and information, visit www.dpacnc.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or the Ticket Center at DPAC in person or by phone at 919-680-2787. For more information on the tour, visit www.hadestown.com/tour.php.
Music, Lyrics, and Book: Anaïs Mitchell