Morrison Center puts on striking classic: ‘Hadestown’

Photo courtesy of Hadestown

The national tour of “Hadestown” arrived at The Morrison Center, and played from Nov. 29-Dec. 3. The tony-award-winning musical created by Anais Mitchell retells the tragic tale of Eurydice and Orpheus. 

Set in a modern, dystopian era, the world has been struck with famine due to chaos in the underworld. There is no longer a spring or fall. Orpheus is poor, but gifted and is writing a song to bring the world back into tune. He falls in love with Eurydice, who is trapped in Hadestown after making a desperate deal with Hades, the king of the underworld. 

Hadestown opens in a way most Broadway shows do not. The cast breaks the fourth wall as they jump onto the stage and excitedly exclaim “Hi!” to the audience. Will Mann, who plays Hermes, sets the tale and the energy for the show. Mann got the crowd excited. He shouted  “A’ight” and had the audience shout it back to him, then he began the show’s opener, “Road to Hell”. 

Mann delivered effortless, stunning vocals throughout the entire performance, and gave a humorous, clever, and all-around perfect portrayal of Hermes. Then, the audience meets Amaya Braganza’s Eurydice. “Any Way The Wind Blows” describes her struggles with poverty, the current famine, and the cruel weather. 

The setting is an endless winter, but Braganza’s voice is a breath of spring. She is completely radiant on stage and brings to life the character of Eurydice with such care and intelligence. Eurydice is cheeky, smart, independent, resourceful, desperate, and dauntless; Brangaza perfectly embodies these qualities. 

J. Antonio Rodriguez plays the innocent, love-sick Orpheus. He makes his entrance, and his eyes fall to Eurydice. Rodriguez gave a beautifully devastating performance. The audience could not take their eyes off him, and for good reason. 

Eurydice and Orpheus fall in love at first sight, but the chemistry between Braganza and Rodriguez makes it seem like the characters have known each other all along. The duo brings to life the ageless love story of their characters. 

Of course, “Hadestown” would not be anything without Hades himself, played by Matthew Patrick Quinn.

 Every entrance Hades made felt like a grand entrance. Giving a wickedly and alluring performance, Quinn is the perfect king of the underworld. He hits impressively low notes throughout the show and his vocals are operatic and stunning, but also strikingly eerie, which is just right for the evil Hades. 

A highlight of the show was without a doubt Hades’ wife, Persephone, played by Lana Gordon. Gordon represented the goddess of spring with such grace and complexity. Persephone may be married to evil, but Gordon portrays her as kind, considerate, and compassionate to all. In Peresephone’s solo “Our Lady of The Underground”, Gordon commanded the stage. All eyes were on her as she delivered powerhouse vocals, including an incredibly long note that had the audience roaring.

Another highlight of the show was The Fates, played by Marla Louissant, Lizzie Markson, and Hannah Schreer. The Fate’s vocals were haunting and their harmonies were nothing short of remarkable. They sing, act, dance, and at certain points in the show, even play an instrument. 

The set design, the lighting design, and the sound design were astonishing. In “Wait for Me”, Orpheus sings for his love to wait for him; he is coming to rescue her. The set, the lighting, and the sound all come together to achieve the musical’s most epic scene. The set slowly starts to pull apart to reveal the underworld, fog starts to roll onto the stage, ceiling lights sway in a dance around the characters and the lighting is perfectly timed to tell our character’s story.

 “Wait for Me” is Hadestown’s masterpiece. It is a goosebump-inducing, spine-chilling musical number. There is also a live band on stage, playing the entire show without missing a beat. The music sounds as if it is a recording, but it is all live thanks to the extremely talented work of band members Eric Kang, Kely Pinheiro, Clare Armenante, Michiko Egger, Emily Fredrickson, Calvin Jones, and Eladio Rojas and the music coordinator, David Lai. 

Amaya Braganza sat down with The Arbiter for an interview to discuss her role as Eurydice. 

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Braganza said. “This has been a dream show of mine ever since I saw it on Broadway when I was 16.”

The music of “Hadestown” was the first thing that stuck out to Braganza. A mixture of American folk and New Orleans-inspired jazz, the show’s score is very unique.

 “I had never heard music like that on Broadway before,” Braganza said. “It’s such a beautiful and timeless story. It’s very poetic and contains themes that relate to today’s world. I’m just grateful to be a part of an impactful, beautiful show.”

“I grew up as a very shy kid. [Musical theater] was a way I could come out of my comfort zone,” Braganza said. “Also, I’m Filipino and I feel that the arts are very ingrained into our culture. Ever since I could speak, my Grandma and Grandpa were encouraging us to perform. I felt like it was always in my blood.”

Braganza has loved her touring experience with “Hadestown” so far. 

“Everyone has been super wonderful and supportive. Being able to share this story with all these different cities and all these different communities has been very special,” Braganza said. 

Braganza also expressed their love for their Hadestown cast members. 

“They are the best people on the planet. They have been so incredibly welcoming. I’m so grateful to be a part of such a kind, welcoming, silly cast,” Braganza said. “That is what’s so great about tours, you spend a lot of time together, so you get really close.”

As a proud Filipino-American, Braganza is thrilled to represent her community in a big production like “Hadestown”

“It has been so healing for me. Change is slow, we are still working on it. I grew up seeing a lot of these stories that play into the stereotype of who an Asian woman is, and I think Eurydice rejects a lot of ideas that society has in place for Filipino women,” Braganza said. “She’s not your classic ingenue. She’s a fighter, she’s a survivor. I think she relates to a lot of women of color. You gotta keep doing whatever you can to survive, and I relate to that in my own experience of being a Filipino, of being a POC (Person of color). I love playing into that resilience.”

What Braganza loves most about “Hadestown” is the sense of community it brings. 

“There are a lot of moments in the show where we break the fourth wall and you connect with the audience. I think it’s really special sharing that experience and knowing you aren’t alone in this world and the idea of collectivity that we are all in this together.” 

“Hadestown” is a triumph that brings a new perspective on a classic love story. It’s funny, charming, and heartbreaking, backed by a talented cast and crew. It’s a sad song you will want to sing again and again.

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