New York Theatre Workshop presents a folk opera based on the 'Orpheus' myth using songs from Anaïs Mitchell's concept album of the same name. More…
Set in a post-apocalyptic America, this sung-through musical chronicles Orpheus' mythical quest to overcome Hades and regain the favor of his one true love, Eurydice. We travel from wide open plains where love and music aren't enough to sustain the residents, down to Hadestown, an industrialized world of mindless labor and full stomachs. Inspired by traditions of classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, Mitchell's beguiling melodies and poetic imagination pit nature against industry, faith against doubt, and love against death. Directed by Obie Award-winner Rachel Chavkin.
“Tightly directed by Rachel Chavkin, who helped develop the piece, one feels literally a part of the story from beginning to end...The score, ranging from ballads to bluegrass, is brilliant...Page turns in a bravura performance as Hades, and Gray is wonderful as Persephone. Her performance captures both the exuberance of a bird in a flight and one trapped in a cage...With a story of love, loss, and rebirth both timeless and universal, ‘Hadestown’ makes for a totally thrilling experience.” Full Review
"Put a great Greek myth together with an awesome genre-spanning score plus a superb cast and you get the downtown hit 'Hadestown'…It hits with the full impact of the consequences of one fearful action…Mr. Sullivan’s stage presence is a study in 'less is more;' he is riveting and endearing as he moves the action along with his blues-tinged vocals, sometimes pulling out a harmonica to wail upon…The lyrics are chilling and familiar in this election year. 'Hadestown' is not to be missed!" Full Review
"I wouldn't change a thing about this practically perfect production...The superb cast is blessed with talent and attitude...Anais is fortunate to have entrusted the direction to Rachel Chavkin, who has a clear vision for the material...The action is immersive, with the cast sinuously moving in and out of the audience, which surrounds the small stage. As a result, you're carried along by the music of the sung-through production, played by an excellent onstage band." Full Review
“Chavkin has crafted a visually arresting production to match the richness of Mitchell's score...Chavkin and Mitchell enrich this ancient story in their imaginative rendering, making the characters and their relationships seem fresh and relatable...Everything about ‘Hadestown’ is designed to grab your attention and pull you into the story. Even if you are not a fan of folk music, it will be difficult to resist this tuneful and visually spectacular production.” Full Review
"In 'Hadestown' the old tale has been brought to fascinating, lushly staged new life…Imperative for anyone who appreciates vibrant, original musicals. While 'Hadestown' hasn't completely shed its album-concert roots, it's not overstating anything when it describes itself as a folk opera...The real star of 'Hadestown' is the music with its well blended mix of folk music, blues-y jazz and pop...The lyrics are also very smart...'Hadestown' is highly original and enjoyable." Full Review
"Anaïs Mitchell’s 'Hadestown' is a faithful retelling of this epic myth with a deep connection to the present and the plight of the 99 percent. Orpheus’ journey to rescue Eurydice from Hades and death and the gripping journey of the pair to the very Gates of Hell has never been more clear or more compelling...Ms. Mitchell’s scintillating 'Hadestown' quickens the deadliness of our current political maelstrom and the social ennui it so weakly attempts to address." Full Review
"A thrilling new musical…With her partner, director Rachel Chavkin and this magnificent design team and orchestra – a thing of beauty has been created. While at times it is is more concert than theatre (this was the first incarnation of the piece) the story nevertheless reaches out and grabs you in your wooden seat." Full Review
"Anais Mitchell’s remarkably diverting musical...This highly original piece has been directed with great flair by the talented Rachel Chavkin…Chavkin ensures that we are immersed fully in this captivating tale, since the cast often stands and dances before us (and even interacts with a few of us)…Mitchell’s magnificently varied score is the main attraction…More importantly, each piece of the mostly sung-through score works beautifully in this theatrical setting." Full Review
"Mitchell and the ever-inventive director Rachel Chavkin have transformed the song cycle into a theatrical piece that sticks close to the main storyline but they've added a down-home Louisiana vibe that is alternately sweet and peppery and deliciously satisfying...The multiracial cast is terrific, except for Damon Daunno's Orpheus who is charming but strains when his songs venture into falsetto…Best of all, however, is Chris Sullivan, who plays the world-weary narrator Hermes." Full Review
“The stellar ensemble fills the theater with soaring harmonies, weaving in and out of the audience and the onstage band. Mitchell’s music, lush and strange and lyrically brilliant, has found its match in this cast...The one weak spot is Daunno, whose vocal and acting chops don’t stack up against his peers. Still, ‘Hadestown’ is something special, a sensory feast that’s also a passionate debate between pragmatism and romance.” Full Review
“What's most engaging about ‘Hadestown’ isn't the story it tells but the way it tells it -- with a barrelhouse sense of rhythm and plenty of blue notes. Under Chavkin's direction, the entire cast is in synch with the music's sassy, cynically upbeat mood, delivering each lyric with a lazy vibrato and a shrugging acknowledgement of the world's wicked ways...‘Hadestown’ delivers its tragic tale with a wink and a snap in its step." Full Review
“Mixes sweet and sexy folk, rocking New Orleans jazz, get-down blues and sinful soul. The eight cast members who perform the 35 songs are uniformly terrific; it’s hard to imagine anybody better. If the plot strays little from the bare-bones story of Orpheus, the songs and the staging are enough to enchant for the two-hour running time...'Hadestown' is not a traditional musical. Think of it as a concert with benefits, but don’t resist the temptation to go.” Full Review
“A gorgeously sung, elementally spare production...The performers intermittently move through aisles in the audience, bringing an inviting intimacy to the production. It’s a smart tactic, because while its score is continually beguiling, ‘Hadestown’ might feel static were it not for Ms. Chavkin’s simple but inventive staging...Ms. Mitchell’s lovely music and well-turned lyrics are tightly bound together, and recall traditional folk music with a distinctive Southern flavor.” Full Review
“The material has been given an enthralling environmental staging...Energetically sung by the powerful-voiced ensemble, the music is terrific: endlessly inventive and eclectic, as melodic as it is funky and folksy...The lyrics aren't as scintillating as the music, and the action feels overly busy at times. The dialogue can be wince-inducing...It hardly matters, thanks to the music's relentless energy and inventiveness as delivered by the crack band and terrific ensemble.” Full Review
“Offers one of the most enjoyable new scores this side of ‘Hamilton’...You feel as if you've slipped into a wormhole and landed in a New Orleans jazz joint circa the 1920s...The story of Orpheus and Eurydice doesn't quite justify a two-hour show, and the second act of 'Hadestown' feels flat...Still, good luck trying to get Mitchell's infectious, down-and-dirty melodies out of your head.” Full Review
"The Orpheus myth is about so much more than young love denied. And, luckily, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin celebrate such depths in the delightful new folk opera 'Hadestown'...The piece infuses the familiar Greek legend with sharp-edged commentary on capitalism, exuberant songs, and a complex meditation on love....Mitchell's best songs are raucous group numbers, expanding the characters' dilemmas into playful meditations on love and hardship." Full Review
"First recorded and performed as a concept album, the song cycle by Anaïs Mitchell is easy listening, sometimes sparkling…Director Rachel Chavkin working with terrific design talent and superb jazz-meets-country orchestrations by Michael Chorney, provides a Tiffany setting for Mitchell’s work...I didn’t weep for E&O when he blew their escape plan in the end. But maybe it’s me: The lady seated behind me, emoting heartily the show, was practically speaking in tongues by the end." Full Review
"'Hadestown' manages to be both simple in structure but complex in references...Most of the time the allegory works. Occasionally it is strained...It’s a talented cast, and the music is so often devilishly enticing that it is easy to forgive it some dramaturgical gaps…The love story could have used an injection of sizzle…Beautiful harmonies and evocative performances keep it from drifting too far into the didactic. Chavkin and Mitchell craft a vivid space to explore a probing political agenda." Full Review
"For a show inspired by a tale dramatized in countless films, plays, and operas...it’s disappointing to see how little drama has been squeezed from it here, despite the many appealing songs and the infusion of a capitalistic exploitation theme...With its extensive use of mics, and even a section where Persephone introduces each orchestra member for applause, it's basically a well-staged concert. Judging by the warm response, however, many will have a hot time in old Hadestown tonight." Full Review
“This interestingly told and interestingly staged journey to the Underworld, alas, only occasionally hits the heights...While we have a bunch of prettyish numbers...things don’t get hot until we get the hell to Hades. The second act more thoroughly engages us and holds our attention...Fans of Mitchell’s album will likely be wowed by the piece, and the stage version is a worthy attempt at trying something different. But this visit to 'Hadestown' is not quite compelling.” Full Review
“A testament to the rewards that can be reaped from conceiving an approach and sticking to it no matter what. Lots of theatre claims to be immersive, but few accomplish it as totally as ‘Hadestown’ does. But for all its physical and technical brilliance, it's dull, even irritating, as an example of musical theatre writing...As with other recent stage efforts from pop artists, it has no discernible interest in telling its story on the theatrical terms.” Full Review
“The likelihood of enjoyment may depend on your willingness to accept that what you are watching is not in fact a musical but more of an illustrated pop concert, if a very pretty one. On the other hand, if you go in hoping for a story told through song, the traditional province of musical theater, you will be very much disappointed...Luckily the singing is generally excellent...When almost everything is narrated, the lack of variety dulls emotion and smothers the pulse." Full Review
“Proves to be smart and romantic but dramatically underwhelming...In Mitchell’s hands, the sensitive Orpheus is too focused on playing the guitar to provide for Eurydice’s real-world needs, so she independently ventures down to an industrialized underworld...The cast is excellent and songs are either gently touching or catchy, but ‘Hadestown’ does come off as slow, undercooked and choppy, more reminiscent of a concert than a theatrical work.” Full Review
"Mitchell’s version cleverly evokes the 'satanic mills' of industrialisation and the lonely romance of the railroads, but it’s not quite enough to pad out the story for two hours. As directed and co-developed by Rachel Chavkin, 'Hadestown' thus feels more like a semi-staged concert (albeit an entertaining one) than a fully developed work of musical theatre. The ending in particular fails to extract much pathos from Orpheus’s fatal backward glance." Full Review
“What Mitchell’s music doesn’t have is much dramatic drive. Song after song gives us a glimpse into the characters’ emotional state. Rarely are we further along in the story when someone finishes singing...Mitchell the lyricist is no match for Mitchell the composer. Her wordplay is intelligent, but rarely is it inspired...Rachel Chavkin’s direction occasionally creates magnificent stage pictures, but the individual moments don’t build.” Full Review
See it if You have any connection to the source material (legend or Anais Mitchell's album). If you like New Orleans. If you like 360 seating.
Don't see it if You're an actual idiot who has no taste. If you want something traditional. If you want Sondheim style music.
See it if You love folk opera or Greek mythology (raises hand). Look out for its eventual Broadway transfer.
Don't see it if Can't think of any reason. This is one of the rare few musicals where you must run to the venue, don't walk.
See it if you love folk music, modernized Greek myths, theater in the round, and crying unabashedly in front of everyone.
Don't see it if you don't want to crane your neck to follow all the action, like not knowing what's going to happen at the end, can't handle seeing regret.
See it if you're looking for an intimate, confusing, overwhelming theater going experience filled with folksy jazz, powerful performances and staging
Don't see it if you don't like contemporary shows--but thats not even a good enough excuse not to see this show !
See it if Brilliant! Beautiful! Great staging. Clever! Talent oozing! Patrick Page is gah! Run to this show. Run now!
Don't see it if I don't even know what to say here. You are seriously missing out if you miss this gem.
See it if You like innovative staging, non-linear melodies, modern and traditional harmonies, and immersive theatrical experiences.
Don't see it if You need a traditional performance experience with standard melodic and harmonic lines and a single visual point.
See it if Wow! What a show! A folk opera with an incredible score, brilliantly talented performers and spectacularly staged ! Blew me away!!
Don't see it if can not think of any reason NOT to recommend this show. It's absolutely brilliant! Loved every second!!!!!
See it if You like amazing theatre staged beautifully and performed creatively. You love folk/jazz/contemporary music. You like great mythology.
Don't see it if You don't like seating in the round. You are specifically seeking dance heavy material. You prefer vanilla.
See it if you like seeing adventurous theatre that pushes boundaries. Immersive staging, stellar cast, and great music. What more could you want?
Don't see it if you want to see a more traditional musical with elaborate staging and props.
See it if You want to see an old Greek myth told with new life, new agency and music that soars in all of the best ways. It's engrossing.
Don't see it if You prefer a more straight-forward telling of a story and don't want to fill in the narrative gaps with your brain.
See it if You enjoy excellent singing and music, inventive staging, and unusual storytelling structure. Amazingly good show.
Don't see it if You require a black and white, linear narrative; if you are a literal-minded clod; if you aren't willing to "go along" with a show's idea.
See it if You love brilliant, bold takes on classic stories. You enjoy lyrical folk music and beautiful acting/singing to accompany it.
Don't see it if You want a musical with a lot of dialogue or fast-moving plot. It's very mythic/epic.
See it if you're a fan of director Rachel Chavkin (Great Comet), or ambitious new musical theatre in general.
Don't see it if you want to miss out on the best new musical of the season.
See it if You know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and are willing to put thought into your theatre-watching experience.
Don't see it if You've never heard of the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice. Also don't see it if you're not willing to think a bit.
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