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REVIEW: Hurry Down the Road to Hell in Hadestown (Orpheum/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Kevyn Morrow and Kimberly Marable in the North American tour of Hadestown, which opened Tuesday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

To call the musical Hadestown a success is an understatement. To call it a masterpiece, however, just might hit the mark. The show took home the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2019, plus a slew of others after being nominated a whopping 13 times. Opening night of the Hadestown tour at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis was an absolute pleasure.

Tuesday night’s house was packed; at press time, the Minneapolis run was all but sold out. Given the show’s innovative storytelling, thrilling score, and resonance with varied audiences, eager theatre-goers have a great reward awaiting them.

The North American touring cast of Hadestown. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

When I studied musical theatre in college, we were taught that the ideal musical equally combined acting, dance, and music to tell the story. Hadestown not only succeeds at this, but takes it to an unexpected extreme, using not only these elements, but the set, lighting, costume design, props, scenic elements, and band in equally important hands to tell this new take on Greek mythology. Never before have I witnessed such a well-balanced piece of musical theatre, with every aspect of the show is in perfect harmony with one another. Director Rachel Chavkin clearly worked closely with her creative team to create a cohesive work of art.

The music of Hadestown is not your typical Broadway sound. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell is the artistic force behind the music, lyrics and book of the show. Mitchell’s indie folk, Americana style gives this product a unique and engaging sound. One way that this manifests is through a New Orleans-style jazz sound that bring the stage to life. It also features a memorable trombone jam like you will hear in no other musical.

The colorful set by Rachel Hauck, the intimate lighting design by Bradley King, and costumes by Michael Krass are just a few of the carefully interlocking elements in Hadestown. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

Like its Broadway parent, the tour of Hadestown is packed with a talented and diverse cast. Stands outs on Tuesday included Kimberly Marable as Persephone and Levi Kreis in the role of Hermes. Marable first appeared in the original Broadway cast of Hadestown as a chorus member and understudy for Persephone, then moved up to take a leading role in the tour. In her hands, we see the tragedy that is the light-hearted goddess of Spring being weighed down with grief for the people of Earth and her loveless marriage. Kreis displays sterling musical chops as Hermes, his voice flowing with the music as he plays off the band to tell us this tragic tale. He is the ideal narrator, stepping in and out of the story as needed, bringing us along the road to Hell. He also brought more humor to the role than I had seen before, which was greatly appreciated.

While the staging of Hadestown is not exactly the same as it was on Broadway due to the limitations of having to play at different stages all around the country, the adjustments are very effective and do not detract. Those familiar with the original entrance into Hell will not be disappointed by the new entrance. Compared to the original Broadway staging, this is if anything even more effective, especially in the pivotal moment at the end of the second act.

What is the takeaway (besides the danger of looking back)? This trip to hell and back is well worth the journey. Be ready to laugh, cry, dance, and sit in awe of this beautiful production.

Hadestown plays at the Orpheum Theatrein Minneapolis through March  20. Tickets priced $40-$159. Tickets are extremely limited at press time. Masks are required; information on the most up-to-date COVID-19 policies can be found on the Hennepin Theatre Trust website. 


Boo Segersin