How many Broadway musicals can you name that feature Greek mythology characters and plots?
Probably only one: the Broadway musical “Hadestown” that hits town Aug. 9-21 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards including Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, “Hadestown” tells a version of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and focuses on two intertwining love stories: that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone.
According to Wikipedia, in this musical adaptation Eurydice is a young girl looking for something to eat and goes to work in a hellish industrial underworld to escape climate-change induced poverty before her poor singer-songwriter lover Orpheus comes to rescue her and together show others the way to escape.
Hadestown was the most honored show of the 2018-2019 Broadway season. In addition to the show’s eight Tony Awards, it has been honored with four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards (including Outstanding New Broadway Musical), and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical.
According to press material, the acclaimed new musical is by celebrated singer-songwriter and Tony Award winner Anaïs Mitchell and developed with innovative director and Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin. “Hadestown” marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical (writing the music, lyrics, and book), and is the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat.
Producers Mara Isaacs, Dale Franzen, Hunter Arnold, and Tom Kirdahy said jointly, “Throughout its development, Hadestown has been deeply influenced by audiences around the world. We are thrilled and humbled to now share this beautiful story of hope, faith, and rebirth – written and directed by two amazingly talented women and brought to life by a diverse company of performers – with audiences across North America.”
The show originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.
The show opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway on April 17, 2019, where it played to sold out houses nightly before performances were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hadestown resumed performances September 2, 2021 as one of the first musicals to reopen on Broadway.
The North American touring production of Hadestown in Costa Mesa will star Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice, Chibueze Ihuoma as Orpheus, Tony Award winner Levi Kreis as Hermes, Kimberly Marable as Persephone, and in the “title” role, Olivier Award nominee Kevyn Morrow as Hades.
Morrow, a former theater major at Chapman University in Orange, was performing on Broadway in the musical “Moulin Rouge” and had auditioned for the role of Hades in anticipation of the Broadway tout.
“Callback was March 13, and Broadway shut down on March 12,” recalled Morrow ruefully. “A few weeks went by, then a month, then Morrow realized the shutdown might last a while, so after spending a few weeks building model cars, he began spring cleaning chores, which evolved into remodeled his entire apartment.
Fortunately for Morrow, television and film industry work returned.
“Broadway relies on an audience, while film does not, so I was fortunate to start shooting productions during that time frame,” said Morrow.
Then came word that theaters were reopening and shows were resuming their tours.
“We started rehearsals for ‘Hadestown’ last August, then jumped out on the road,” recalled Morrow. “When we started the tour in September and October, it was great to be the first show back. The energy that audiences were giving us, for seeing something live, it was so exhilarating”
Morrow noted that “Hadestown” is different than a typical Broadway musical in that it is sung through with little dialogue, so the show keeps flowing with little time for applause.
The music has a New Orleans vibe, and the music is what keeps the show exciting.
“It gets into your spirit,” said Morrow. “It’s also very visual, and incredibly beautiful, and very hopeful. That’s the message—there is always hope, and love always wins.”
Morrow said his character Hades thanks he’s had a bad rap because Zeus handed all of the realms to the family, and sent Hades to take care of the underworld.
“Hades is a businessman, and expects people to have read their contract,” said Morrow. “I tried to make him three dimensional. The Greeks viewed their gods more humanistic, and that is reflected in my Hades. Love, pain, anger, frustration.”
Overall, said Morrow, “We have been blessed that there has not been a single night without a standing ovation. I am proud of that for all of us. It is the show, the story and music and cast. I’m proud of us and proud to be part of it.”
For tickets, visit www.SCFTA.org.