“Hadestown” is a hauntingly beautiful take on Greek mythology

“Hadestown” is hauntingly beautiful

Review: J. Antonio Rodriguez, Amaya Braganza and company bring a tale of hope and love to the Landmark Theatre.

Alternative Text
T .Charles Erickson
Amaya Braganza, Lana Gordon, Matthew Patrick Quinn and company in the “Hadestown” North American Tour.

Opening on Broadway nearly five years ago to the date, Hadestown gained popularity for its hauntingly unique take on the tragic Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone. It is a story of hope, longing and love, capturing the hearts of seasoned theatergoers and new fans alike. The national tour of the hit musical Hadestown certainly lives up to its prestige. 

The show is told like a Greek epic, narrated by Hermes and The Fates who coax the audience into the post-industrial, jazzy, setting during the opening number “Road To Hell.” Soon after, we meet Orpheus and Eurydice, played by J. Antonio Rodriguez and Amaya Braganza. They are truly the heart and soul of the show. Braganza’s Eurydice is gritty and determined, a runaway dead set on living a better life. Rodriguez’s Orpheus is idealistic and naïve, a musician and hopeless romantic who falls in love with Eurydice at first sight. Rodriguez and Braganza have such palpable chemistry, which is heightened by the fact that the characters’ inherent differences complement each other. Songs like “Wedding Song” and “All I’ve Ever Known” capture Eurydice’s practical self-sufficiency and Orpheus’s steadfast idealism which, when meshed together, create a beautiful and somewhat innocent love. 

Matthew Patrick Quinn’s Hades and Lana Gordon’s Persephone are equally intriguing as a couple. Quinn portrays Hades in a way that expertly balances authoritarian cruelty with a deep loneliness and longing for the love that he once shared with Persephone. Numbers like “Hey Little Songbird” and “Why We Build the Wall” dip into Hades’ callousness, while “His Kiss, the Riot” show how he grapples with his need to maintain power and desire to free Orpheus and Eurydice. Gordon’s Persephone is purposely distant, turning to substances to numb the pain of being bound to Hadestown and a possessive husband for six months every year. Gordon plays her in a way that maintains a certain amount of empathy and hope despite her misery. Her performance is melancholy, yet guarded, supported by stunning vocals.      

With fully sung-through musicals, there is a fear that the pacing might lag without some dialogue to add variety. That wasn’t the case with Hadestown. Every song captured and held the audience’s interest until the end. That was in large part due to the stellar ensemble and The Fates, played by Marla Louissaint, Lizzie Markson and Hannah Shreer, who guided the audience through the story and into the character’s minds with haunting harmonies and unmatched charisma. They seamlessly blended into the background, almost as if they were a part of the set themselves.

Speaking of sets, the only minor issue with this production was that the set seemed a little crowded at times. The band, ensemble, Hermes and The Fates are on stage for much of the show. There were times when it detracted from more intimate, one-on-one moments with characters. That being said, having the band on stage the entire time kept the audience engaged and added to the 1930s, jazzy feel of the setting. 

For those that like musical theater, Greek mythology, or a touching love story, this is the show for you. The company seamlessly immerses the audience into a jazzy, sultry world, telling a story of hope, loss and love. The result is a deeply moving production with so much soul. The production runs through Sunday, April 21 at The Landmark Theatre. A word of advice, though: bring tissues because you will shed a tear by curtain call.