Amaya Braganza in Hadestown
Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Broadway Across Canada

When & Where November 7 to 12, 2023, evenings at 8pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre| Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Director Rachel Chavkin Choreography David Neumann Music Director Eric Kang Music Coordinator David Lai Scenic Design Rachel Hauckl Costume Design Michael Krass Sound Design Nevin Steinberg & Jessica Paz Lighting Design Bradley King Production Stage Manager Joel Rosen

Euridice Amaya Braganzaó, Orfeo J. Antonoi Rodrigues Hermes Will Mann, Hades Matthew Patrick Quinn Persephone Lana Gordon

Reviewer John Jane

Hadestown, of course, is theatre code for the Underworld, as described in Greek mythology as the place where humans go after death. It’s neither heaven nor hell, but depending on your status – somewhere in-between. The tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice is timeless. It has given inspiration to painters like Rubens as well as many modern plays – and now – Anaïs Mitchell’s rock opera.

If you were fortunate to see Vancouver Opera’s production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice a couple of years ago, you will already have a handle on the characters and perhaps some familiarity with the dense storyline.

Just about everything about Hadestown - the performances, production qualities and of course Anaïs Mitchell’s musical score is outstanding. J. Antonio Rodrigues owns the role as the naïve musician Orpheus and Amaya Braganza as the world-weary, ill-fated Eurydice who gets to die twice in a two and a half hour show is nothing short of amazing and is a perfectly pragmatist counterpoint for Orpheus’ dreamer predilection.

J. Antonio Rodriguez and Amaya Braganza in Hadestown
Photo: T. Charles Erickson

The show also gets top drawer performances from baritone Matthew Patrick Quinn and alto Lana Gordon as the other mythic couple Hades and Persephone. Ms. Gordon brings a unique energy to the role and delivers some of the show’s few lighter moments. She single-handedly opens the second act with “Our Lady of the Underground” where she uses the opportunity to introduce the six on-stage musicians. Quinn is superb as the maleficent Hades. He isn’t constantly involved in the action, but when he is, his presence is significant. He leads the company in with the somewhat political “Why we Build the Wall” that closes the first act on a musical high point. - It’s worth noting that in real Greek mythology, Hades is never seen as the villain.

Many in the audience appeared to enjoy Will Mann’s flamboyant performance as Hermes. His mythical role is messenger, and as such, he serves as a conduit between the narrative and the audience. Resplendent in a silver sharkskin suite, he delivers the opening song “Road to Hell” to contextualize the story that is about to unfold.

I personally loved watching the antics of Marla Louissaint, Lizzie Markson and Hanna Schreer who make up “The Fates” – a female trio who provide back-up vocals on many of the songs and occasionally carry an accordion, a tambourine and a violin respectively.

Rachel Hauck’s single set is evocative of a Bourbon Street Jazz Club and is neither elaborate nor minimalist; yet manages to double as Hades’ dystopian underworld factory. The scenic design is enhanced by Bradley King’s innovative lighting that features pendulum lamps. The choice of splitting the six-piece band – three on each side of the stage, leaves room for the performers to move around.

Unlike opera, Broadway musicals based on Greek mythology might be a hard sell. Don’t let that dissuade you from taking a night out to go and see Hadestown. You won’t be disappointed.

© 2023 John Jane