Wednesday, February 19, 2020

CD Review: Hadestown OBCR

Frankly, the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hadestown is one of the best in many years. Of course, it helps that it preserves one of the best in many years, too. But it is the details that make it just that much better. The CD version is quite deluxe, with a gorgeous, high quality booklet with complete lyrics, liner notes and great full-color show photos. This alone sets this one apart from most others.

First of all, whether you've seen the show or not, you'll find that listening to the performances will transport you. Truly, I think you could close your eyes and fully imagine what is going on. Each cast member brings such full character to their vocals, the recording is nearly as emotionally satisfying as seeing the show live. The ensemble, including The Fates, is wonderful, with tight harmonies and terrific jazz-stylings. Just as impressive is the show's band, a character unto themselves, frequently reminding me of those bands you hear on a boozy, warm New Orleans evening.

The Principal Cast of Hadestown
The principals are also as good here as in the theater, starting with Tony-winner Andre De Shields. What a force of nature! He really is the glue that holds the whole thing together as he guides us through the story. I'm a sucker for a great opening, and he delivers ("Road to Hell"). Patrick Page's deep, dark timbre is both unsettling and thrilling, perfect for Hades, right? "Why We Build the Wall" with its eerie call and response is a cautionary tale for our times, whether it was intended or not. Eva Noblezada brings a powerful, yet sweet, presence to every song she sings. Is it any wonder Orpheus falls so fast and hard for Eurydice?  For me, though the biggest two stars on this recording are the brassy Amber Gray (especially "Our Lady of the Underground") and the sweet Reeve Carney. Both are superb on every track; she delights with every plot twist, and his sweet innocence is heartbreaking. 

All of this really has to do with Anais Mitchell's masterpiece of a score. There isn't a dud on either disc. Her lyrics are poetic, emotional perfection. Kudos, too, to Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, whose orchestrations and arrangements are sheer perfection.

Grade: A+


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