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Critics are calling Hadestown “...sumptuous, hypnotic” and "breathtaking.” Already touted as a cult classic in the making, Vox says that “...in the theater, you can actually see the cult following develop in real time.”
A retelling of the classic tale of Orpheus’ ultimately doomed quest to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the underworld, Hadestown takes place in a version of hell that resembles a rollicking New Orleans during the ragtime era. The hit score encompasses a variety of American musical styles, all played by an on-stage seven-piece swing band.
In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a bard who sang songs so beautiful that he persuaded Hades’ wife Persephone to intervene with her husband, the god of death (and, in Hadestown, the evil overseer of a captive workforce) and beg him to let Eurydice escape to the world of the living. Narrated by the Fates (in both old and new versions) the story encompasses themes about marriage, sacrifice, capitalism, and includes archetypal figures from ancient myths that are completely relevant today.
Hadestown’s journey to Broadway was a long one. The original production, described as a “song cycle,” premiered in a small town in Vermont in 2006. The show toured briefly in Vermont and Massachusetts – and France -- but the show had problems. The music, written by American singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, was well-received but early theater-goers and critics had issues the characters and the plot, which more than one critic described as “incoherent.”
In 2010, Mitchell released Hadestown as a “concept album” that included guest appearances from other musicians including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and singer Ani DeFranco. The album was nominated for a Grammy award, and gained positive reviews. A song from the original album, “Why We Build the Wall,” received notice for its strong political message, and was covered by Billy Bragg on his Bridges Not Walls release.
In 2012, director Rachel Chavkin met Mitchell, and the two began reworking the Hadestown concept for musical theater. The production premiered off-Broadway at New York Theater Workshop in 2016, but reviews were mixed. Chavkin and Mitchell continued to revise and fine-tune the production, continuously evolving every aspect of the show as it traveled to venues in Canada and London.
According to one critic, “...every time it’s evolved, Hadestown has only gotten better.” By the time the show opened in previews on Broadway in 2020, the show had hit its stride. Hadestown was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and Hadestown tickets became one of the hottest sellers on Broadway.
Hadestown is still going strong on Broadway in 2020, and the national touring company has stops scheduled in cities from coast to coast! You’ll find great seats to all Hadestown shows today at Ticket Network.
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