Hadestown: It’s a Sad Song, But We Sing It Anyway
As the opening number of the musical Hadestown began during the Broadway in Boston production, I felt a surge of patriotism. What a great thing our American musical tradition is, that we can blend blues and Broadway and ragtime to create this fabulous mix of rhythm and sound. Hadestown blends two ancient myths of the underworld–that of Persephone, who is doomed to spend six months of every year underground with her husband Hades, and that of Orpheus and Eurydice, whose love is thwarted, at least in the retelling here, by mistrust.
These are ancient tales, but this version of the story is set in a dark yet glittering underworld in which Hades wears a sharkskin suit, the three Fates appear as speakeasy torch singers, and Hermes offers a world-weary narration that fills us in on the action. The world of Hades is an industrial nightmare nightmare of harsh lighting and back-breaking labor. The music and action provide commentaries on capitalism and climate disruption as well as the nature of love and music.