Hadestown ★★★★ Lyric Theatre | Feb 10 - Dec 22, 2024


In a terrific jazz retelling of the myths of Hades and Persephone, and Orpheus and Eurydice, Hadestown recasts, and intertwines, these two stories bringing out the power of both tales. Persephone is held in the underworld by husband, Hades, for half the year, and only when she returns to the earth does it becomes lush and fruitful again. The tension between the two is caused by her love of life and their annual separation. On the other hand, Orpheus falls in love with Eurydice who is lured to the dark realm by the promise of food and comfort. He pursues her and ultimately makes a deal with Hades which should allow him to bring his beloved back to the world. Anaïs Mitchell's book sticks fairly close to the original stories, but there is also a bleaker political allegory that comes out in songs like "Why We Build the Wall." As his dark eminence, Hades, Zachary James is a commanding figure and he brings an extraordinary voice and beautiful articulation to his role. He is well matched by Gloria Onitiri who has some great moves and gets it just right in songs like "Our Lady of the Underground" and "Way Down Hades Town." The tension between these two opposites simply sizzles. Unfortunately, the same chemistry isn't really present in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Dónal Finn as the former and Grace Hodgett Young as the latter failed to radiate the youthful rapture that we expected. With Orpheus' voice being described in myth as able to charm wild beasts and overcome the Sirens' song, Finn has a lot to live up to, but for us, his singing didn't extend to the haunting, ethereal quality we were expecting in Orpheus. Hodgett Young as Eurydice nicely captures the innocence and desperation of her character, and her rendition of "Flowers" was faultlessly affecting. However, it was Melanie La Barrie as Hermes who, from the moment she comes on stage, sets the tone of the show. Her energy and swagger is infectious, and we were definitely ready to follow her on the "Road to Hell." There's a lot of fire and fun in this show and we'd say get on down to Hadestown.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Marc Brenner

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