Thank you, places: Love and tragedy in ‘Hadestown’
Anaïs Mitchell’s hit Broadway show blends jazz and musical theater together to create a Greek inspired tragedy
The hit broadway show “Hadestown” is packed with memorable scenes, songs and music. Whether you’re an avid fan or discovering the world of musicals for the first time, “Hadestown” is a true must-see for anyone interested in theatre.
Often regarded as a feat of musical magic, “Hadestown” puts a twist on the classic Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice by setting the story in an industrial landscape that is more similar to cities in the 1900s than anything else.
Throughout “Hadestown,” multiple threads, motifs and plots merge to fully encapsulate the show’s main myth and capture the attention of the audience. Although there are many stellar and noteworthy performances throughout, one of the most spectacular parts of “Hadestown” is the show’s reprise of the song “Wait for Me.”
Taking place in the second act of the musical, “Wait for Me (Reprise)” finds Orpheus and Eurydice at a crossroads, as Hades, the king of the underworld, offers them an escape from Hell that feels more like a trap.
Pioneered by Hermes — originally portrayed by Broadway legend André De Shields — the song’s reprise culminates the musical’s plots, adding to the excitement of the show.
Sung by Orpheus, Eurydice, Hades, Persephone, Hermes and the Fates, all key characters in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the song’s notes blend together in a tragic yet beautiful melody. The intensity of Orpheus and Eurydice’s final test is felt throughout the theatre.
Such a scene doesn’t just happen by chance. Though it may look simple at first glance, “Hadestown” utilizes everything in its toolbox to create such an intense moment and performance.
Staging plays a huge role in the success of this scene. Throughout the three minute song, the characters of “Hadestown” go through multiple placements on stage. Not only do they pose in stances mirroring different plots or characters (Orpheus and Eurydice hand-in-hand behind Hades and Persephone, for example) but the stage itself moves with them as a revolving prop.
When Orpheus walks left, the stage moves the Fates to the right, allowing for the show to physically mimic the echo of their warnings, with each character placement and movement serving a distinct purpose.
Alongside “Hadestown’s” stellar staging, the vocal arrangements of this song shine as well. Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada star as the show’s original leads, Orpheus and Eurydice, and their vocal arrangements in this reprise balance one another perfectly. The higher pitch of Carney’s vocals alongside the projection of Noblezada’s mezzo-soprano blend beautifully while they call out to one another to “wait for me.”
“Hadestown” continues to be unique in its arrangement of the pit as well. Where other Broadway musicals typically have a traditional band below the stage, “Hadestown” brings musicians on stage with the characters, allowing them to shine in the spotlight alongside each actor.
As Orpheus and Eurydice heed final warnings before attempting to walk out of Hell together, the musicians of “Hadestown” play their music around them, amplifying the emotions of the reprise’s final sendoff.
In an interview with Broadway Direct, “Hadestown” creator Anaïs Mitchell discussed how prior to creating the musical, Mitchell identified primarily as a songwriter. According to the interview, Mitchell said the idea for “Hadestown” “materialized” and eventually morphed into the musical hit.
“If you had told me when I was 25 years old that this thing was going to end up on Broadway,” Mitchell began, “I would never have believed it.”
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