Hadestown Reimagines Greek Mythology with a Modern Twist: North American Tour Review

Chibueze Ihuoma and company in the Hadestown North American Tour. Photo by Kevin Berne

When I went to watch Hadestown, I came in not knowing what it was about. A part of me thought it was a period show based on just images alone. Oh, I was in for a huge surprise. It was very refreshing to see a different take on Greek mythology with its casting, setting, and music genre including folk, blues, rock, swing and more. Songs like “Epic” and “Wait for Me” are beautiful and emotional, and Hadestown brings an ancient Greek tale to life by fusing it with American folk and blues settings.

Greek mythology has been a popular inspiration for storytelling in films and games including Disney’s Hercules, Clash of the Titans, Thor: Love and Thunder and Santa Monica Studio’s God of War. For fans of musicals, there’s Hadestown, a modern reimagining of an ancient Greek love story.

Hadestown had an Off-Broadway premiere in 2016 with a Broadway debut in 2019. Afterward, it won 8 of its 14 nominations including Best Musical and Best Original Score at the 2019 Tony Awards. With its popularity rising, a national tour premiered in 2021. We experienced the Greek love story at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA.

Hadestown North-American Tour. Photo by Kevin Berne

The musical follows a musician named Orpheus, who falls for Eurydice. When everything seemed good, she is taken into the Underworld, which is ruled by Hades. Now the musician will do anything in his power to save her by venturing into the world of the dead and then trying to bring her back to the world of the living.

The show starts with Levi Kreis as Hermes, a Greek god dressed in a silver suit. The performer’s Southern charm warms up the crowd, and his soulful and smooth voice instantly sets the mood. Morgan Siobhan Green has a wonderful singing voice as Eurydice; however, Chibueze Ihuoma’s voice as Orpheus feels too soft compared to the rest of the cast. Kimberly Marable as Persephone just oozes sassiness and excitement. Kevyn Morrow’s performance is commanding, and his deep and melodic voice is fitting as Hades, the ruler of Hadestown.

The set pieces and background don’t change as much as in other musicals, and for the most part, it uses one main backdrop that transforms into another. What it does is play with lighting, which helps to create different areas in a scene like the Underworld. Then again, the show using only one major set piece for a story inspired by Greek mythology felt somewhat of a letdown.

There are creative updates to the story to fit a more modern setting. Instead of a boat that leads those into the underworld, the show uses a train (sadly, there’s no train on the stage). The people of the underworld act as factory workers, showing the hardships in Hadestown. Even though there aren’t any major set changes, the main one that does exist does the job. Another positive is that the live band is seated to the left and right of the stage for the audience to see at all times. This isn’t a traditional musical with a full orchestra. The band uses drums, guitar, piano, trombone, violin, cello and bass.

Final Reaction

Hadestown is a wonderous reimagining of the ancient Greek story of love and loss. The music is majestic and striking, and the performers are fantastic. The musical could be improved upon with different sets to really hammer home the feeling of going from the world of the living to the underworld of Hadestown.

Hadestown is currently shown at Segerstrom Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts August 9-21. Tickets are available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, or by calling (714) 556-2787.

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