Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hadestown ****

New York Theatre Workshop has pulled out all the stops for its production of Anais Mitchell’s folk opera based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. They have completely reconfigured the interior of the theater, building a 3/4 circular wooden amphitheater with room for the musicians in the gap. They brought in one of our finest young directors, Rachel Chavkin (The Royale; Small Mouth Sounds; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), to develop the project with Mitchell. The casting is nothing less than superb: Damon Daunno (Curly in Oklahoma! at Bard) as Orpheus, Nabiyah Be (Queen of the Night) as Eurydice, Patrick Page (Spring Awakening, Casa Valentina, Spider-Man) as Hades and Amber Gray (Laurey in Bard’s Oklahoma!) as Persephone. From Daunno’s gorgeous falsetto to Page’s mesmerizing basso, they cover the vocal range admirably. Chris Sullivan is a charismatic Hermes, who serves as our narrator. The Fates — Shaina Taub (Old Hats), Lulu Fall and Jessie Shelton — not only sing well, but break out instruments at key moments. The seven-piece band does right by Mitchell’s outstanding score, a blend of folk, country, gospel, blues and New Orleans jazz. Rachel Hauck’s set features a leafless, gnarly tree that overhangs the performing space. Michael Krass’s costumes are suitable without being showy. David Neumann’s choreography provides needed fluidity to the production. Chavkin's masterful direction holds everything together beautifully. It’s not perfect. Some of the narrative themes, particularly in the first act, were either confusing or underdeveloped. However, it’s one of the rare shows that improves in the second act. I’m not sure the production shakes off its concept album roots sufficiently to qualify as a folk opera, but I’m not going to quibble over category in the face of so much talent. The audience included many young people who were fans of the album. The seating is on a motley array of wooden chairs with cushions thoughtfully provided. I enjoyed the afternoon thoroughly. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including intermission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bob - Thanks so very much for recommending this show to me. I saw it this afternoon and was thrilled. A bonus was the 3 Fates singing Andrews Sisters style.