“For a moment I forget just how dark and cold it gets.”
Just so there’s no confusion, this is not a review, this is a love letter.
Anais Mitchell’s “Hadestown” has gone on quite the journey to get where it is today. It’s been a work in progress for over a decade. It’s been a concept album and a concert. It’s been off-Broadway, to the West End, and finally it has found its way to Broadway. It is a true celebration of the creative process and the power of collaboration.
The amount of work and love poured into this epic, emotional experience by Mitchell, director and co-creator Rachel Chavkin, the phenomenal cast, and the entire creative team, shows in every finite detail. Every moment, every movement is perfectly choreographed to reflect the emotion of the story. The scenic design, the lighting, and the sound blend together to make sure that you aren’t just distracted but transported.
If you’re not familiar with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice or Hades and Persephone, either stop reading right now or consider what follows to be an education instead of spoilers. I’ll try and keep it to general plot points, but I make no promises.
The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one that many of us have heard before. It’s a story of love, loss, hope, and ultimately tragedy. Narrated by Andre De Shields as Hermes, it’s like you’re hearing it for the first time. Reeve Carney and Eva Nobelzada as the doomed lovers are captivating. The raw emotion of new love, the rush and panic, the passion, it permeates the theater. Nowhere is this clearer than in “Wait for Me” and its reprise, which leave you completely shattered. (I’m talking full on, involuntary ugly crying.)
Alongside this sweeping story of young love is a couple whose love is as old and inevitable as the changing of the seasons — Persephone and Hades. This on-again-off-again romance is beautifully intertwined with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. These two gods may not have the fire and the passion of young love, but they have the patience and the understanding to try again.
Like I said, this is a love letter, and not just because I literally have nothing critical to say about “Hadestown.” The story of Orpheus and Eurydice does not end well. We know this, or you do now (sorry). Yet, “Hadestown” is not just a tragedy. It’s a story about struggle, joy, pain, life, and love. Their story has been told through the centuries not because it’s a real bummer, but as a reminder to the rest of us to keep trying.
In our own pursuits of life and love we all walk alone at one point or another. We all know that pang of uncertainty that comes with not knowing if someone is behind you, beside you, or long gone. We know that panic of not knowing if we’ve gone too far or not far enough, and just generally not knowing what the hell is going on (or is that just me?).
We are all Orpheus in that way. Yet we have one advantage, and it is his story of “love that never dies…a love song for anyone who tries.” We know how it ends, but we keep going. We keep telling the story. We keep telling the story to remind ourselves that any true pursuit of life and love is worth the inevitable risk of tragedy.
…Don’t worry I didn’t forget about the honor of Night King slayer. I was just stalling because this one was tricky. I mean, we’re dealing with gods here, so picking one of them seems like an easy choice but it also feels like a cop-out. And yes, I am still stalling, but I think I’ve arrived at a decision — Persephone. Why? Because it has not been six months yet, and no undead army is going to stop her from livin’ it up on top. Plus Amber Gray is a badass. (Yes, I am seeing this bit through to the end…”Ain’t Too Proud” and “Beetlejuice“)
…just for fun: