From soundtrack to stage

‘Hadestown’ is a must-see musical

Laynie Clark, Managing Editor

“And suddenly, Hades was only a man.”

“Hadestown” has departed from Texas, but the feeling it left behind has not. The Tony Award-winning musical made its way to the Majestic Theatre on Sept. 13 and took its final bow in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 25 before traveling to Oklahoma.

The musical is set in a hellish, climate change-stricken background of smog-filled air as an adaptation of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice unfolds on stage. Hermes, played by Tony Award winner Levi Kreis, narrated the tale while simultaneously interacting in the scene. 

The tale is not an unknown one: two lovers separated soon after igniting their spark. As Hermes explains the sad tale, Eurydice stumbles into a restaurant where she falls into the arms of Orpheus — a singer who is set on bringing warmth back into the world through song. After poverty strikes, Eurydice is approached by a devilish man — Hades, the God of the Underworld. Hades presents Eurydice with a choice: stay with Orpheus and live in poverty or leave him and follow Hades to the Underworld. 

As the tale unfolds, various lighting designs are splayed on stage to convey the necessary emotions of the play. While Hades is constantly engrossed in a hue of warm tones to represent the heat of the Underworld, Orpheus is seen through dim, cool-toned lighting. It is no surprise that lighting played a key role in this show as Bradley King — a multi-award-winning lighting designer — spearheaded the design process. King utilized lighting in ways that made the audience feel like they were a part of the show rather than mere spectators.

Aside from lighting, Hadestown is recognized for its jazzy, acoustic sound, composed by Anaïs Mitchell. Traditionally, bands are hidden away from the audience in a pit or backstage. Unlike other musicals, “Hadestown” has its band staged into the show and visible to the audience to fit the musical’s aesthetic. This elevated the listening and viewing experience for the audience, which provided a deeper appreciation for the ensemble. Chibueze Ihumo had the honor of filling Orpheus’ shoes for this performance, and he did not disappoint. Taking the usual youthful sound from the original Broadway company, Ihumo brought a deeper, more soulful meaning to each note he sang, considerably improving the flow of the soundtrack. 

Director Rachel Chavkin smoothly executed the vision from soundtrack to stage, something not all directors can do. Chavkin left the audience yearning for more, understanding that not all stories have happy endings, making “Hadestown” a must-see musical.