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  • Writer's pictureNora Landy

Review: Hadestown (Broadway)

April 26th, 2024

I’ve now seen this show three times: once on tour, and twice on Broadway. This third time changed some of the conceptions I had gathered from my first two watches. First, and most important to me personally, I had not yet seen a show where both the Orpheus and Eurydice could fully sing their roles. I’ve seen a clean Orpheus and a clean Eurydice (I’m speaking specifically of vocals here), but it had seemed up until this point that they were somehow mutually exclusive. I thought that maybe it was just that casting couldn’t find anyone to live up to Eva Noblezada/Reeve Carney’s chemistry and flexibility, but truthfully I struggle to believe that would be a problem for one of the most popular shows of the decade. In any case, this Orpheus/Eurydice pair was by far my favorite that I’ve seen.

Jordan Fisher is worth all of the hype and more.

Side note: I had not known beforehand that there was quite so much hype, but there was actually a massive group of (Canadian?) fangirls at this show, losing their minds over everything he did. They mostly kept it under wraps until bows. I didn’t really mind! It’s nice to see how live theatre can make people feel.

Anyway. I found his performance to be vocally stunning, pitch-perfect and electrified; without compromising his ability to live in the moment at all. I am not this show’s number one fan (will get to that later), but his sheer gravity had me in tears several times. I thought he turned a role that can be choppy and cheesy at times into the most genuine version of itself possible.

My sister said he annoyed her, but I’m smarter and better than her and I know what I’m talking about so we’re going with my opinion!

Isa Briones as Eurydice had vocal chops like nobody else. She ate this role up and spat it out like it was nothing. Her pitch was clean and her control was precise; she played the gamut of everything that Eurydice goes through without sacrifice and without shaking any tail feathers.

I thought her performance in particular highlighted the way that Eurydice is not technically “special,” other than to Orpheus. She’s a hungry young girl who falls in love with a boy. And this performer understood the importance of fitting into the ensemble’s energy like a puzzle piece, rather than standing out like an interactive item in a video game. It’s their love that brings back Spring, not just their individual selves. That’s part of the beauty of this story: we feel like these two could be any of us.

Regarding Ani DiFranco as Persephone, I don’t have a ton of specific thoughts— I thought she was great. I’ve yet to see a truly unique portrayal of Persephone, but I don’t think that’s really necessary either. Plus, why would her performance be different? She was on the original concept album, she was the blueprint, everyone else has probably taken a lot of inspiration from her choices. Maybe I didn’t get as much motherly affection for the ingenues from her, but her connection with her Hades was laser-sharp and never faltered.

We saw Alex Puette in for Hades this show! I would like to start off by saying that going on as an understudy or swing is already fucking incredible and it was really fantastic to get to see that kind of magic happen. I don’t want to give many thoughts on his performance; truthfully I thought he did his best, and that his best was energetic and inspired, but that he wasn’t necessarily right for this role in particular (from how I view him). That’s part of swinging! You have to fit a lot of types! But I see little point in giving thoughts about the choices a triangle makes when trying to fit into a square box. He was great, and clearly a very thoughtful performer, and I’d love to see him again in something else.

I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but I don’t love the way Hadestown is written. I think the pacing is jagged, the relationships are forced, there’s a lot of not-strictly-necessary songs, and the music falls flat at times. Specifically the first 30 minutes of the show: I think the development of Orpheus and Eurydice’s relationship is snappy and jarring, and not believable from an audience standpoint. I think Orpheus and Eurydice can both lack inherent depth at times. I think some of the choreography is cheesy and misplaced. I feel like the show already knows people are going to melt for it, so it doesn’t try as hard as it can. I’ve always said I found it a little overrated.

That being said: as I watched the show this third time around, I found myself in tears for nearly the whole thing. Despite the very clear snags that I can still see, I find myself falling a little more in love with it every time. I think in order to truly love this show, it’s important to zoom out. Hadestown is a musical, but it’s also a poem. The whole show, one long poem. It may not always be specific in the way it tells its story, but it’s not about that. It’s about the feeling. It’s about wanting to root for love, and about seeing the first flowers of Spring.

So do I think people love Hadestown for the wrong reasons? Not necessarily. I think people go to Hadestown, feel that overwhelming feeling (that it really does stir quite well), and are quick to insist that everything about it is perfect. (“I felt so strongly! No notes!”) Is everything about it perfect to me? Nope! Will anything ever be? Probably not! That’s why we keep making things! To experience huge feelings, to have something to analyze in an effort to understand ourselves, and to come a little closer to describing the human condition. That’s why we sing it again and again, as it were.

Did I cry: Oh yeah big time

Photo by Evan Zimmerman

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