Faculty of Arts and Sciences Lacks Confidence in Harvard’s Governing Boards, Per Survey


Jeremy Weinstein Will Serve as Next Harvard Kennedy School Dean, Garber Confirms


More Than 30 Students to Appear Before Harvard College Ad Board for Pro-Palestine Yard Encampment


As Students Occupy Harvard Yard, Faculty Urge Against Police Response


ACLU Calls on University Presidents to Protect Protests, Free Speech in Open Letter

‘Hadestown’ Review: A Musical Worthy of Immortalization

The cast of the North American tour of "Hadestown" at the Boch Center Wang Theatre.
The cast of the North American tour of "Hadestown" at the Boch Center Wang Theatre. By Courtesy of T. Charles Erickson
By Isabelle A. Lu, Crimson Staff Writer

“It’s a sad song,” Hermes (Will Mann) warns the audience at the start of “Hadestown.” “We’re gonna sing it anyway.”

Few stories grow in meaning through the cycle of performance as does Anaïs Mitchell’s musical adaptation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with its power to draw out human hope against all reason and all artistic permutations of the lovers’ tragic fate. Launched in 2020, the North American tour of the eight-time Tony Award winner finally arrived at the Boch Center Wang Theatre from April 24 to April 28 in all its mythical glory.

The hit musical reinvents the ancient Greek story of Orpheus, a renowned bard who descends into the Underworld to retrieve his dead wife Eurydice. In this version, Hadestown — the industrialized Underworld ruled by the tycoon Hades (Matthew Patrick Quinn) — lures in the poverty-stricken Eurydice (Amaya Braganza), who Orpheus (J. Antonio Rodriguez) attempts to save through a musical appeal to Hades that centers on the god’s complicated love for his wife Persephone (Lana Gordon). Mitchell’s lush folk-jazz music revitalizes the timeless love story while her poetic book and lyrics offer a timely commentary on borders, capitalism, and industrialization.

The tour cast’s vocal power nails the impossible task of portraying a divinely gifted musician, his fantastical songs, and the gods themselves. Orpheus is played with a sweet, simple air by Rodriguez, while Eurydice hovers between cynicism and romanticism. Appropriate for this contrast, Braganza’s voice turns sharply between dynamics and employs swift, confrontational crescendos. She constantly leans forward with hunger, desire, or curiosity while gripping her backpack straps, as if poised to flee or fight. Yet because the role of Eurydice bears the risks of overshadowing her lovestruck appeal with her jadedness, Braganza’s beautifully striking performance could have been tempered with gentler vocals in moments like “Flowers,” when Eurydice grapples alone with her choice to join Hades’ workforce.

As immortal foils to the young lovers, Hades and Persephone embody the consequences of their withered love: the former’s need for control versus the latter’s sense of entrapment. Between Quinn’s commanding baritone voice and Gordon’s quirkiness of sound and movement, they nearly outshine the main duo. Gordon’s slightly nasal tone adds a particular kick to her comedic delivery, as she mocks Hades’ commandeering persona and complains about life in Hadestown. Dancing with abandon in “Our Lady of the Underground” with high kicks and full body shakes, she delightfully sells the notion of the free-spirited, stir-crazy, somewhat-of-an-alcoholic goddess. Meanwhile, Quinn’s voice is perhaps the most impressive of the bunch due to its sheer power, resonating throughout every inch of the theater in “Why We Build the Wall” and earth-shaking in his dictatorial cry: “We build the wall to keep us free!”

On the borders of the story are the equally captivating Hermes — who Mann brings a jazzy young energy to — the Fates (Marla Louissant, Lizzie Markson, and Hannah Schreer), and the onstage band. The show’s folk and jazz roots and the themes of joyous communal artistry are anchored in the instrumentalists’ rich acoustic sound and just as worthy of attention as the cast.

Meanwhile, scenic designer Rachel Hauck’s set — an amalgamation of rustic steps, aged wood, and various raised platforms — contains two worlds, one “on top” and one “down below.” Just when the unchanging upper world seems slightly stale, the walls expand outwards, allowing circular lights to shine through in a stunning transition to the titular “electric city.” The lighting of the Underworld, designed by Bradley King, is symmetrically breathtaking even when it blinds, with workers’ headlamps and the circular lights sending light beams straight into one’s eyes as befits Hadestown’s destructive industrialization.

The tiered set also hosts layers of movement with the band on one level, some actors beneath them upon the revolving turntable, and others gliding about the back of the stage and up the staircase. Different yet simultaneous dances on a character-packed stage match the musical’s sung-through style and rousing harmonies in a never-slow visual marvel. In “Doubt Comes In,” swaying overhead lamps with Orpheus marching on the turntable form a gorgeous interpretation of the hopeless journey back to the world above. The show needs little realism to be engaging; the storytelling, abundant with motion and meaning, is enough.

And everyone knows how the story ends — but when Orpheus turns to look at Eurydice, expectations come crashing down in a testament to the enchantment of “Hadestown.”

Mitchell’s musical is sure to go down in theater history; a production worthy of the gods makes the tour unmissable. Hopefully, the Fates ordain it that “Hadestown” will come back to life day after day, and that its characters will always deliver on their promise: “We’re gonna sing it again and again.”

“Hadestown” ran at the Boch Center Wang Theatre from April 24 to April 28.

—Staff writer Isabelle A. Lu can be reached at

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.