Take a magical journey to hell and back with Hadestown at the Winspear
There are several moments in the Tony Award-winning musical Hadestown that feel oddly prescient, from thinly veiled mentions of climate change to a leader building a wall to "protect his people's freedom."
But creator Anaïs Mitchell first began working on Hadestown in 2006, debuting it as a concept album in 2010 before its New York Theater Workshop premiere in 2016. It finally landed on Broadway in 2019.
So any Donald Trump parallels or of-the-moment social commentaries are simply a coincidence — though you could argue that domineering leaders and the organic vs. industrial struggle are, in a way, timeless.
Based loosely around the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone, Hadestown weaves together New Orleans jazz, modern dance, supernatural elements, and the tragic nature of love, all overseen by a fleet-footed narrator whose traditional role is as a messenger who guides souls to the underworld.
Director Rachel Chavkin, who gained notoriety for her immersive staging of The Great Comet, helps make these abstract figures relatable.
The young lovers are torn apart by the very real dangers of hunger, poverty, and inattention, while the quarreling gods wrestle with control, personal vices, and jealousy. And surrounding them all is a very talents onstage band (led by music director Cody Owen Stine) and a quintet of workers that symbolize, well, all of us.
In the national tour that's currently playing the Winspear Opera House, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals, some of these elements are more effective than others.
Kimberly Marable is effervescent as Persephone, the goddess of fruit, flowers, and abundance. Even when she descends into an alcohol-soaked depression brought on by Hades' sudden obsession with power (and not her), she's scarily chipper.
Kevyn Morrow, likewise, is smooth as silk in his portrayal of the devilish lord of the underworld. These two have the most complicated relationship onstage, and each strikes just the right balance of entertaining and truthful.
Morgan Siobhan Green and Nicholas Barasch don't have quite the same electric connection as Eurydice and Orpheus, even though their love is supposedly strong enough to escape death (at least for a little while).
And commenting on it all as Hermes is Lei Kreis, who previously won a Tony Award for his role as Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet. There's more than a little Jerry Lee to his performance here, and the overall effect is more enthralled bystander than wise guide.
The three Fates, however, bring a welcome touch of ethereal bitchiness to the two-and-a-half-hour saga, with Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne baring their teeth in predatory grins and relishing the chaos they cause with the mere flick of a finger or whoosh of breath.
But still, to go on this magical journey to hell and back after two years of the pandemic (which is its own kind of hell) makes it, at least for a few hours and in Mitchell's own words, "easy to see how the world could be, in spite of the way that it is."
The national tour ofHadestown, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals, plays at the Winspear Opera House through January 30.