Go “Way Down” To Hadestown At The Aronoff
Review by Katrina Reynolds
Greek mythology was always my favorite. Further, New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. So what happens when you add some folksy, bluesy, NOLA-inspired jazz to the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice? You get the Tony-Award winning musical known as Hadestown by Anais Mitchell (aka the show most recently added to this reviewer’s top 5 list).
The Plot of Hadestown
For those who may not know the tale, Orpheus is a musician/poet who falls in love with Eurydice. The details have been zhuzhed for this modern-ish spin on the ages-old story, but the gist remains the same: Eurydice ends up in the Underworld and Orpheus must make his way there to bring her back to the Overworld. Key players in this tragic love story also include the god Hermes (who serves as our storyteller), Persephone (who splits her time between the Over and Underworlds – thus, creating the seasons); and our proverbial villain, Hades.
Hadestown Production Team
Director Rachel Chavkin had their work cut out for them. Hadestown is a big undertaking with splashy colours and nonstop energy. Mx. Chavkin did not disappoint as pacing is excellent and the stories are told adeptly. The aesthetics of this show are characters within themselves. Much-deserved praise goes out to Scenic Designer Rachel Hauck, Costume Designer Michael Krass, and Lighting Designer Bradley King. It is not lost on this reviewer that colours mean a great deal in the world we experience as this story is told and the choices made by these contributors in particular are to be celebrated.
Something that is not only special, but very much needed in this theatrical experience is the true example of an ensemble set by this band of artists. While there are certainly “leads,” every single person on the stage plays an integral role in the telling of this series of events. What is even more heartwarming is that the orchestra are honoured as part of the group as well and are present, on stage, for the entire show right along with the actors. And boy – were they talented! Bravx, Orchestra and kudos to Music Coordinator, David Lai.
Hannah Whitley gives us her heart and soul on stage as Eurydice. Ms. Whitley is not only a talented actress, but an emotionally-intelligent vocalist. Not to be outdone, her counterpart J. Antonio Rodriguez as Orpheus matches her emotions and vocal talent note for note. As to be expected, the actor portraying the semi-titular character of Hades (Matthew Patrick Quinn) embodies the pseudo-villainy with a beautifully smarmy charm. Hades’ vocals are not a cakewalk, but Mx. Quinn delivers on all fronts.
Without a doubt, the best vocals on that stage are those of The Fates (Dominique Kempf, Belen Moyano, and Nyla Watson). Each has a beautiful presence on her own, but together they are fire. One of the hardest things to find is three singers who know how to harmonize and blend together seamlessly (unless they are related) – and we are blessed with three performers go above and beyond that assignment. Sidenote: two of my fellow artists and I have decided that when we grow up, we shall play these roles. Take note, Cincinnati!
In summary, Hadestown is a show I would recommend for a shower of people. If you are a fan of Greek myths, go. If you love the feel of gritty New Orleans and it’s bluesy Jazz, go now. If you enjoy a love story with poignant vocals and emotional expression, go now and do not hesitate. Hadestown is a modern-day masterpiece and we are lucky to be witness to its rise.
Get Your Tickets to Your New Favorite Musical
Hadestown, presented by Broadway Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center, runs though April 30. To purchase tickets, please visit the official ticket site at The Cincinnati Arts Association.