Had I the power of Zeus, I would make everyone who reads this go see “Hadestown” at the Buell Theatre in Denver.
The smash Broadway musical and multiple Tony Award-winner is in town only until Sept. 11, and there are still seats available as of press time. Go, buy a ticket.
Sure, the plot deals with some serious stuff, like climate change, poverty, power, death, trust, loyalty. And it’s based on ancient Greek myths, which might intimidate some theater-goers right off the bat. But stay with me here.
In a world where the seasons are ruled by tempestuous gods and the whims of a demon, young Eurydice is searching for food when she comes across singer-songwriter Orpheus. They fall in love, and Orpheus vows to write a song guaranteed to make spring return to the Earth. But Eurydice’s faith in Orpheus falters and she ends up signing her soul over to King Hades. Persephone, Hades’ wife, talks him into giving the young lovers another chance. Tragedy ensues. (It’s a Greek myth, remember; tragic endings were de rigueur.)
Transforming that myth into stage magic was the idea of singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, who wrote the music, lyrics and book back in 2006 and ushered “Hadestown” to Broadway in 2019 under the tutelage of director Rachel Chavkin. It went on to win eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
If you go
“Hadestown” at the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Through Sept. 11. Tickets at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100.
For this national touring company, strong performances by Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice and Chibueze Ihuoma as Orpheus are at the center of “Hadestown,” but most every other actor and musician on stage completely killed his or her part in the musical; they simply mesmerized.
- Narrator Hermes, as played by Levi Kreis, is a charming, cocksure cross between David Beckham and Bradley Cooper whose command of the stage and rocking voice immediately set the bar high for what’s to come.
- The three Fates — Belen Moyano, Bex Odorisio and Shea Renne — were delightful, commanding every scene in which they were in and providing delicious harmonies (“Nothing Changes”), comic relief and a delightful running commentary on the goings-on to keep the pace brisk.
- Hades, with his deep, rich baritone and stunningly handsome looks, convinced audience members that he was indeed a king. (Overheard from one woman: “I’d go on a date with that devil.”)
- A beguiling Kimberly Marable as a fiery Persephone handled the humor and sorrow of her role with grace and aplomb. You just could not take your eyes off of her.
- Each member of the chorus of workers moved with power and control, and their strong voices were beautifully unified.
- The on-stage musicians transitioned smoothly between being part of the show and providing the background to it in sometimes raucous, sometimes poignant moments.
And while all the voices in this production of “Hadestown” were quite powerful, you won’t be able to forget the magical notes reached by Ihuoma as Orpheus. (It’s unlikely that you will ever hear the phrase “la la la la” again without thinking of this performance.)
Want to see why? Listen to the original Broadway cast recording on Spotify, Apple or Amazon.
This national touring show of “Hadestown” was postponed from April 2021 due to the pandemic. Here’s hoping it returns to Denver to raise some more hell.
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