Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Celia and Fidel
"It's an old song, but we're gonna sing it again," narrator Hermes (charismatic Levi Kreis, Tony Award winner for Million Dollar Quartet) sings as he welcomes the audience. The story originates in the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and of Hades and Persephone, but Mitchell's book and songs set it in a New Orleans-like neighborhood (Rachel Hauck's scenic design incorporates tall, decorative doorways and decorative ironwork) when it isn't in the Underworld city called Hadestown (Bradley King's piercing lighting design dominates the overall darkness of the space).
Director Rachel Chavkin is working with a multi-talented cast, relatively small in number but all accomplished actors, singers, dancers, and in some cases also musicians. As Orpheus, Nicholas Barasch sings his idealistic visions in an ethereal falsetto, while Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice manages to convey both her current despair and a vague belief in a better future. Kimberly Marable is a stunning, outspoken Persephone, while Kevyn Morrow as Hades is a sleek embodiment of power and wealth, never raising his voice unless he encounters any challenges to his rule, and Kreis shimmies and seems never to stop moving as he moves the story along.
Mitchell began work on Hadestown almost a decade ago, which means that some plot elements are visionary rather than seeming overly on the nose. (Eurydice can't find a job in the city; Hades guarantees soul-grinding jobs to the residents of his citymining and drilling for fossil fuels, building electrical grids, and building a wall to keep poverty from invading.)
Michael Krass has designed costumes that dazzle the eye while also delineating character: Persephone's identically styled dresses, vivid green for her annual visit "on top" and richly textured black for her return to the Underworld; Hades' subtly shimmering pinstriped suit; Hermes' flash; and the simpler clothes for Orpheus and Eurydice.
David Neumann's propulsive choreography takes many fascinating forms: the party mood when Persephone makes her annual visit above ground, bringing warm weather and flowers (and wine); the tenderness between Orpheus and Eurydice; Hermes' intense bursts of footwork; and the grim lockstep of the workers' chorus.
Hadestown runs through October 31, 2021, at the Opera House, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.hadestown.com/tour.php.
Music, lyrics, and book by Anaïs Mitchell
Orpheus: Nicholas Barasch