Saturday, March 25, 2023
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Hadestown - Bourbon Street bluesy folk opera's trip to hell

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for

If you are going to reimagine the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice – a poor poet guitar strumming musician with a voice to die for and his ravishing but hungry counterpart as a sung-through folk opera (that originally was a sixty minute album in 2010) you must at the very least cast actors that appear to like each other and have an iota of chemistry sizzling between them. These two characters are madly in love with one another. And “without love life has no purpose” – a quote from Charity Hope Valentine.

Damon Daunno (Orpheus) and Nabiyah Be (Eurydice) hardly fizzle. Singing their way to hell and almost back on a variety of microphones. He of the wobbly falsetto and she of the vacant stare who wails we hardly care for either one as they wander through the reconfigured New York Theatre Workshop space that last time round was a gymnasium with lap pool and now is a three quarter in the round tiered space with quite uncomfortable seats – even with a provided cushion.

Responsible for this busy pseudo-poetic edging towards pretentious production is the imaginative and theatrical director Rachel Chavkin who has helped Anais Mitchell - composer/lyricist - develop her work for the stage that is now a seemingly endless two hours plus with intermission.

Thank the gods for small favors. Here we have as our narrator and charming guide Chris Sullivan as Hermes who can sing and move and beguile. He alone makes this trip worthwhile.

Down below we have the basso profundo Patrick Page (who at times reminds one of that voice-over guy for movie trailers of the past) as that demonic King Hades who has built a Trump like empire and wall – (to keep out the enemy) and will seduce Eurydice into experiencing what he has to offer leaving Orpheus to walk all the way down into the depths of depravity to rescue his beloved.

Persephone (Amber Gray) long suffering wife of Hades and goddess of the seasons gets to spread her charm each spring escaping from below with her basket of flowers and a full flask.

The music is a combination of New Orleans jazz, blues and ragtime that is mostly enjoyable performed by an on stage band that is excellent. The lyrics are mundane. The plot ambles along with three Fates (Lulu Fall – Jessie Shelton and Shaina Taub) a Greek chorus combo of The Andrew Sisters and The Supremes.

If only Orpheus and Eurydice were believable lovers who could enchant us we might care what befalls them as fog annoyingly envelops the arena and fellow actors scurrying around and up and down in and out.

Through July 3rd

Photo: Joan Marcus