Photo Courtesy of T. Charles Erikson
Hop onboard the railroad line to HADESTOWN and be transported into the depths of the underworld where ancient Greek mythology meets bluesy, jazz-infused Americana – a place where the ordinary and extraordinary intertwine, and where the boundaries between the living and the dead blur.
HADESTOWN tells the love story of Eurydice, a young, hungry woman who finds herself laboring in a hellish industrial rendition of the Greek underworld, and Orpheus, a poor singer-songwriter, who embarks on a daring quest to rescue her from the nightmarish realm. With the help of many infamous Greek characters, we follow along a story of unwavering devotion, the power of music, and the enduring pursuit of hope in the face of despair. As these two lovers navigate the twists and turns of their journey, HADESTOWN unveils a mesmerizing tale of love, sacrifice, and the indomitable human spirit.
The curtain remained open as we took our seats, showcasing a beautiful set that gave off a New Orleans-vibe in style and in colors. The set, along with artful lighting, the delicate touch of a fog machine, and the dynamic rotation of the stage, all contributed to an aesthetically-captivating experience that also complimented the actors during this powerful production.
Speaking of actors, the casting directors’ choice for Hades (Matthew Patrick Quinn) proved to be nothing short of perfection. Quinn’s commanding presence, his deep growling voice, and his unwaveringly stern demeanor as the god of the underworld breathed life into the character. The storytelling by Hermes (Nathan Lee Graham), as well as his voice, shined as he drew us into the story from the beginning to end — and back to the beginning again. Persephone (Maria-Christina Oliveras) graced the stage with beauty as she effortlessly toggled between humor and seriousness. Her impeccable sense of timing, reflected in every nuance of her facial expressions. The seamless coordination and synchronized movements from the Fates (Dominique Kempf, Belén Moyano, Nyla Watson), along with their beautiful voices and whimsical costumes, held my attention even during the simple act of sitting on their barstools – in sync, of course.
Undoubtedly, one aspect that propells this production to greatness is the Workers Chorus (Sevon Askew, Jordan Bollwerk, Jamal Lee Harris, Courtney Lauster, Racquel Williams). They stood out as some of my personal favorites throughout the show as I found myself drawn to their captivating performances, especially during the song “Wait for Me”, -my personal favorite. Their contributions were nothing short of essential, and they deserve a round of applause for the invaluable energy and talent they brought to this production.
Orpheus (J. Antonio Rodriguez) and Eurydice (Hannah Whitley) emerged as true vocal powerhouses, delivering performances that left the audience in awe. Their remarkable vocal ranges were nothing short of astonishing, and the sheer intensity of their acting drew me into their world. It was in the small, subtle actions and choreography where I found myself rooting for their love, despite knowing how it would end. The incorporation of Rodriguez’s guitar-playing talent was an absolute treat, adding an extra layer of charm to his portrayal of Orpheus.
I cannot fail to mention the extraordinary orchestra that was on the stage throughout the entire show, seamlessly blending in with the vibrant jazz-infused setting. The orchestra didn’t just accompany the production; they were an integral part of it. I found myself watching the orchestra perform just as much as the characters on stage, and boy, did they give an amazing performance.
As the cast was taking their final bows to a standing ovation, I was reminded that stories like these have the power to transport us, to inspire us, and to connect us. Whether by train or a long and lonely walk to save a soul, it’s a journey worth taking to remind us of the magic that can be found in the theatre. HADESTOWN is playing now through September 24, 2023 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center. Learn more here.