“It’s a sad song, but we sing it anyway.” Hermes
Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812) has done it again with the wonderfully directed Hadestown. Starting Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, onto Canada, and across the seas to London this spectacular production is worth the ride. The heavenly score and book by Anaïs Mitchell are a treasure of earthly delights.
This woeful tale about Orpheus (Reeve Carney) and his love, Eurydice (Eva Noblezada), who descended into Hades, is told with wit by a suave Hermes (André De Shields). Causing agitation along the way with perfect harmonious vocals are The Fates (Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad). The hotter-than-hot Hades (Patrick Page), the God of the underworld, and his dazzling goddess, Persephone (Amber Gray), rule this myth, as we go from a depressed version of New Orleans to an industrial Hell.
This cast is beyond talented, starting with the romantic lead, Reeve Carney. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, his desperation in his eyes, and his vocals sliding up and down the guitar like an otherworldly angel misplaced in a world he does not understand, he steals our hearts. Eva Noblezada has a voice that is boundless, with perfect placement and a yearning that longs to be recognized. André De Shields brings that timeless, ancient quality that makes him a Broadway treasure. Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad are gorgeous, captivating, and give out killer harmonies. Patrick Page sings lower than low and makes you cringe and come hither. And Amber Gray is a glorious jazz diva; loving, wanting and giving it her all.
I seriously want this CD with songs like the infectious “Livin’ It Up on Top”, the longing and haunting “Wait For Me”, the seductive “Hey, Little Songbird,” to the political “Why We Build The Wall”. Each number is so smart and infused with a distinct musical styling, wrapped up in jazz, blues and Zydeco.
The band is also a musical nirvana with a trombonist that wails and a violinist that sinks under your skin.
The choreography by David Neuman is hot, sweaty, and the use of his “Workers Chorus” is exceptional. Every element of this show hits the mark from the electrifying costume designs by Michael Krass which incorporate every world and status, to the set by Rachel Hauck which will astound, as will Bradley King’s lighting which is glaring and haunting.
The collaboration between Chavkin and Mitchell is intelligent, moving, and resulted in one of the best nights I have had in theatre. This is a show that is right up my alley.
The loss of light, joy, and connection is a never-ending story, yet hope always keeps us striving to redeem ourselves. Hadestown is a must for anyone who still has a glimmer of hope.
Hadestown: Walter Kerr Theater, 219 W 48th St.