Hello everyone! Today, for the first time in a long time, I’m reviewing a musical! Specifically, Hadestown!
I went back to take a look at when the last time I went to a musical was. It was back in March of 2020! I went just before that “two week” stay at home order went into effect. Thinking about everything the theatre community has gone through since is just wild. Thankfully we are able to now get back into the theatre!
Before getting into the review, I did want to add the COVID protocols that Broadway in Chicago had in place when I went. While the state of Illinois did lift their mask mandate, they did say businesses can make their own rules. Broadway in Chicago did require everyone to either be fully vaccinated and show their vaccine card, or they could show a negative COVID test as long as it was dated within a certain time frame. They also required a valid ID to enter (so they could match the vaccine info) and masks were required for everyone. There was no distancing requirements since, well, theatres are not built to allow for distancing to be honest, but it still felt very safe and, from what I saw, everyone complied.
So, here is what I thought about Hadestown!
Hadestown Musical Review
So I had been looking forward to seeing this show for a long time. I did regret not seeing it on Broadway when my sister, her roomie, and I went to NYC. (Blog post on my trip linked there!) It was meant to be in Chicago before now, but with the pandemic it was delayed. When we saw it on the upcoming season though, we immediately made plans to see it.
I went with my sister and both her roomies. I love her roommates honestly! They are always incredibly sweet and welcoming and super fun people! They were the ones that bought the tickets and took care of literally everything, which was really nice. They just told me when to show up and how much the ticket was! My preference is usually a matinee show, but evening shows are always extra fun as everyone is (usually) more dressed up. The intermission was after my bedtime, I will admit, but I was having such a great time I barely noticed!
The show features the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with some creative liberties of course. The music, lyrics, and book are by Anais Mitchell. If you don’t want to be spoiled on the story, I’ll just say it was a beautiful show! (I’ll warn you before I do talk spoilers later.) The cast was phenomenal. The cast was very diverse in terms of race and even size. It was definitely something I appreciated, seeing such an inclusive cast. The cast also didn’t mirror the Broadway version. Although I didn’t see the Broadway original cast, I have listened to the cast recording and seen performances from them online for things like Talks at Google, NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, and stuff like that. If the original actor for a role was a certain race, the touring company didn’t look to cast a similar type of actor. For example, Hermes and Hades were both different races in the touring company than the original actors who originated the roles they played. And these actors played the role in their own way. We loved that! Their voices and acting was incredible, everyone was crazy talented, and it was honestly the best show to come back to the theatre to.
Every song was gorgeous, and while songs like “Road to Hell”, “Wait for Me”, and the other big numbers do stand out, the smaller songs flow so seamlessly together and support each other so beautifully that it’s hard to pick from them which might be an underrated song. They are honestly all really good and such gorgeous songs! I will say that I did have a special appreciation for “I Raise My Cup” for sure, which I didn’t expect to love in person as much as I did.
The staging was changed from the Broadway version, of course, but it was still really good! I will say the stage did feel a lot smaller than I remembered it, since I did see Hamilton and a few other shows at that theatre before and this one just felt like it was a smaller area somehow, but the space was still well utilized. Also, the seats we had were obstructed view seats, as we were all the way on the end of the mezzanine. Even if we couldn’t see one side of the stage, we didn’t really mind since we didn’t miss much. Most of the action was in the center or the other side of the stage, so we still got pretty clear views of almost everything. Also, one really nice thing was that we were in the front row of the mezzanine, since three of the four of us are pretty short! Anyway, we really didn’t feel like we were missing much based on the obstructed view, and I would be fine picking those seats again for another show in the future in that theatre.
I suppose some spoilers are coming on the staging and the musical itself, so feel free to skip the rest of this post if you don’t want to be spoiled! The way the train is done in the Broadway version was by using an onstage elevator, which I believe is in the middle of the stage. But at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago, it was an area built into the staging where the characters would go to and then mechanical doors would close to signify the train had left. I actually did like that! They also did have the turn tables on stage, which was lovely. The actual structures on stage did open up when the characters moved to the underground world of Hadestown. That was also a great touch! It made the are they were working with a lot bigger and also clearly showed the difference between Hadestown and the world above.
Overall though, the show was was beautiful. The story of course, ends with Orpheus looking back at Eurydice, thus sending her back to Hadestown forever. We know that’s how the story ends, yet the show does a beautiful job of giving one hope that this time it might turn out differently. And then, it gently guides you back to the start of the story. There were such beautiful themes of hope, persistence, determination, and love in the show. I am so, so happy I went to see it.
So that’s my thoughts on Hadestown! If you get the chance to catch this one, I would recommend it. It’s a beautiful show and I know it’ll stay with me for quite some time.
Thanks for reading!
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