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Hadestown the brand new musicalthat opened on Broadway April 17, has had one of their very public evolutions of any musical I know of. It started as a song cycle traveling around Vermont in 2006, and from there became a star-studded concept album with a cult following. Subsequently it was an off-Broadway show. Then it struck Canada. Subsequently London. Each step along the way, it has been under public scrutiny.
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However, what’s most amazing about it’s that each and every time it is evolved, Hadestown has just gotten better.
When I fell in love with the series as a concept albumat 2010, ” I understood Anaïs Mitchell’s folk-inflected score was beautiful, and the assumption — that the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice reimagined as an anti-capitalist parable — was persuasive.
However, I wasn’t convinced it’d function as a theatrical series. The central metaphor of capitalism as death was abstract, and the mythical characters much better as archetypes than as psychologically distinct human beings, so that I feared literalizing the entire thing by placing it onstage would break everything to bits.
At the Broadwayproduction of Hadestown, sumptuously led by Rachel Chavkin of Natasha, Pierre, and also the Great Comet of 1812 fame, the metaphor is a little bit incoherent. The narrative is a bit shaggy, and a few of the characters are a bit flat. However, Hadestown in its final shape, revised and workshopped and thoroughly thought through, climbs above the sum of its parts.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
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It creeps beneath your skin and stays there so ably that at the theater, you can actually observe the cult after developin real time. After the house lights came up for intermission at the performance I saw, three unconnected men and women that weren’t sitting collectively said”holy crap” in unison. The man in front of me that he had witnessed the series five times already; counting previews, Hadestown had been on Broadway for about three months and officially available for only five days. Then the lights came back down, and the audience all turned back into the stage, waiting for the climax where we’d all gasp as you possibly at precisely the same instant – because this series is, at the literal sense of this word, breathtaking.
Hadestown handles mythic cycles of death and rebirth with as much aplomb as it will contemporary questions about making art in a capitalist world
Hadestown has arrived on Broadway. Like many of its mythic antecedents, it is the product of many metamorphoses, and its present manifestation feels lush, sensual, and formally exciting, and of course, in certain moments, witchily prescient.
The gods, or even more inclined Ms. Chavkin and her creative team, have saved “Hadestown Broadway” on its way uptown – via Edmonton and London – by turning it into something much warmer, or even ideally warm. The narrative is clearer, the tunes express that narrative more straight and the larger subjects arise from it naturally rather than demanding immediate attention such as overeager undergraduates.
Hadestown is the very honored series of this 2019-2020 Broadway season. In addition to this show’s eight Tony Awards, it has been honored with four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. The series is already the highest-grossing musical at the background of this Walter Kerr Theatre and has been selling out every day.
Hadestown marks the first time in more than a decade that a woman has become the solo author of a musical: composing the songs, lyrics, and publication, and that is the fourth occasion in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat. The series originated as Mitchell’s indie theater job that toured Vermont that she subsequently turned into an acclaimed album. Together with Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed to a genre-defying fresh musical that combines contemporary American folk songs using New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.