The more shows I see, the harder it is for a show to completely exhilarate me. Each season, I look forward to the next thrill ride, and many shows come close. Sure, there are shows that I love and admire, each perfect in their own way. But very few excite me and re-set the bar just a little higher. In fact, it's been a full decade since the last perfect storm of art, writing, staging and performance showed itself to me. That show was Next to Normal. Now, almost exactly ten years later, lightning has struck again. The show is Hadestown. And it is brilliant in every way.
The entire design concept is just as unified, even though it would seem impossible. Michael Krass's costumes are a sexy mix of character-specific styles, spanning flapper dresses, 40's style menswear, depression era destitution and dystopian modern. The unit set - part French Quarter jazz club, part coffee bar aesthetic, with a multi-circle turntable and a dead center bottomless portal to Hell - has been stylishly designed by Rachel Hauck and holds some sweet surprises which I won't give away. This visual feast is made complete with the often eerie, often beautiful, and always stunning lighting design by Bradley King. Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz have provided equally eerie, beautiful and stunning sound design.
|Hermes (André de Shields)|
|Persephone and Hades (Amber Gray and Patrick Page)|
|Orpheus and Eurydice (Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada)|
The tragic couple at the center of it all is played with a delightful, youthful vitality by the fiery ball of energy that is Eva Noblezada and the angst-filled (and criminally underrated) Reeve Carney. True triple threats, they sing, act and dance with finesse, and they are the emotional center of the entire show. So good are they together, that even though I knew from the beginning how things would turn out, I was still shocked and saddened that they didn't somehow manage to avoid their fate. Not to worry - the final moments, including the rousing post-curtain call number - will leave you floating out of the theater on wings like Hermes.
Helmed by the über-talented Rachel Chavkin (she was also instrumental in the development of the work), Hadestown is so tightly constructed and the staging and choreography (by the equally brilliant David Neumann) so seamlessly blended it feels less like watching a musical and more like watching living, breathing art bloom right before your eyes. "Come see how the world could be," indeed. Timely and timeless, Hadestown is a masterpiece.
📸 : J. Kyler, M. Murphy