review of hadestown live

from evy's notebook

After listening to music from Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown for most of the pandemic, I finally got to see the show on stage last week at the Orpheum Theatre SF. The musical tells the tale of two pairs of lovers from Greek mythology: old jaded Hades and Persephone and young naive Orpheus and Eurydice.

In live performance, the songs came to life. I've never seen so much fog fill the stage as when Eurydice was calling for help in the winter storm. The workers of the underworld marched heavily forwards on a rotating piece of the stage that prevented them from making progress, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of an endless slog. The use of swinging lamps was a creative choice that skillfully set the tone of several scenes. Instead of the convention of musicians sitting in a hidden pit, the jazz band sat in plain view on the sides of the stage and sometimes stepped out and danced with the others. Persephone called out each musician by name at one point. It felt like the show took place at a jazz club.

I love the Broadway cast recording so much that I couldn't help compare the touring cast to them. I wasn't expecting someone to sing like Eva Noblezada but Morgan Siobhan Green did not let me down. However, the chemistry between her character and Orpheus was notably awkward, especially in comparison to the Broadway couple who are dating outside of the show. The main difference that bothered me was how Hades' opening line ("I missed ya") was spoken in a lighthearted way instead of at the bottom of his register like the ominous growl in the Broadway recording. Hades' character evolves over the show from rigid and mean to a slightly more warm and loving, and hearing his opening line in a cutesy tone diminished the gravity of that contrast.

Overall, I really enjoyed the show. I squealed with delight after several songs. The music, choreography, special effects, and costume design all blew me away. Though I've only seen a handful of live musicals, I would definitely consider Hadestown to be my favourite.