The road to show business success is long and daunting – as exemplified by HADESTOWN, Anais Mitchell’s exciting, energetic, and inventive musical. The original version of the show first surfaced in Vermont in 2006 and then went dormant until Mitchell – who wrote the book, music, and lyrics – turned the musical into a concept album in 2010. When Mitchell met director Rachel Chavkin in 2012, they began to re-work the show with additional songs and dialog; and in 2016, HADESTOWN was presented off-Broadway. Again following some tweaks, HADESTOWN premiered on Broadway in 2019, where it won eight Tony awards, including best musical and best original score. In 2020, the HADESTOWN album won a Grammy for the best musical theatre album. But then the pandemic intervened, and HADESTOWN found itself in the cold for another two years. Now, in 2022, the Ahmanson Theatre proudly presents HADESTOWN to its eagerly anticipating audiences.
HADESTOWN is a clever, often bouncy reworking of the Orpheus and Eurydice Greek myth – but set in today’s world in a rousing music lovers’ nightclub that looks suspiciously as if it’s straight out of New Orleans. To add to the mythic fun, Hermes (Levi Kreis) has an innocent but magical ward named Orpheus (Nicholas Barasch), who can literally charm the birds from the trees. The instant that Orpheus sets eyes on Eurydice (Morgan Siobhan Green), he’s a goner. He proposes to her within minutes – much to this far more worldly beauty’s confusion. Soon, she finds herself on hard times, what with the frigid and forbidding winter and a very late spring. Enter Persephone (Kimberly Marable), who carries spring in on her sexy shoulders for six months every year, much to the chagrin of her husband Hades (Kevyn Morrow), who’s king of the underworld but must spend six months of every year lonely and longing as his lover cavorts among the flower bushes and dancehalls (and tips quite a few glasses as handsome men surround her).
To hear Hermes tell it (especially since he’s the narrator of the tale), Eurydice gives up fighting the elements and okays a contract with Hades to labor in his (very warm) underground factory. Unfortunately, Hades’ employees aren’t unionized; and there is no exit clause in the binding agreement she signed. When Orpheus hears about the crisis, he hops to it with plans to take a trip on the River Styx to her underground home – and rescue poor Eurydice. While he’s at it, he throws in a few marriage counseling tunes to heal the broken relationship between Persephone and Hades. Finally, everything is set for Eurydice’s journey back to the surface with her beloved Orpheus – but Hades has voiced one condition which Orpheus must follow in order to bring Eurydice back home. All aficionados of myths will be well aware of the tricky trickster’s pronouncement and what follows. For everyone else, you’ll need to see the show. Unless, of course, you are friends with the three Fates (Belen Moyano, Bex Odorisio, Shea Renne), who are in on every happening in town.
HADESTOWN is a delightful musical filled with lush, toe tapping music from its very own seven-piece onstage orchestra conducted by music director Nathan Koci. Kudos to director Rachel Chavkin, who shared in the development of the show with Anais Mitchell, as she keeps up the pace in this creative opus. With music supervisor and vocal arranger Liam Robinson and choreographer David Neumann, the musical numbers effortlessly flow without pause. Scenic designer Rachel Hauck has outdone herself in this glorious set – with stunning lighting by Bradley King and resounding sound by Kevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz. Michael Krass’ costumes and Jennifer Mullins’ hair design add to the festivity of the production. Last but by far not least, HADESTOWN has the near perfect cast who sing like birds (from twitters to sultry moans) and dance up a storm. Hades is perfectly cast as the booming bass of the crew. You can’t miss with HADESTOWN. This is a must-see production which was well worth the wait.
HADESTOWN runs through May 29, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Ahmanson Theatre is located in the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets range from $35 to $199. For information and reservations, call 213-972-4400 or go online.