Live Entertainment: Little Moments in ‘Hadestown’

Professional photo of Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice, Kevyn Morrow as Hades, Levi Kreis as Hermes, Kimberly Marable as Persephone, and Nicholas Barasch as Orpheus in ‘Hadestown’. Photo by T. Charles Erickson and copyright goes to Concord Theatricals.

Hey! Hallie here!

A little over a week ago I made a huge post about my experience seeing the touring cast of ‘Hadestown’. It’s my favorite theatrical show of all time and seeing it live was such an amazing experience! But now that I’ve talked a bit about what I like about the show and how much I adored the cast, I want to get more into specific details. Particularly because before I watched ‘Hadestown’, I was really eager to hear about the little things that happen on stage that I wouldn’t know from listening to the cast recordings. Now that I’ve seen these little moments and acting choices in person, I feel like I know the characters and their motivations even better than I knew them before. So for those of you who want to speculate about the characters with me, or are just as curious as I was about what goes on onstage, I’m going to go character by character through some of the little things that stuck out the most to me! If you don’t want to know anything about the show, there’s MAJOR SPOILERS ahead!

Orpheus: A lot of the things I list for him happen in most productions, but I still loved these moments. The first thing Orpheus did to make me fall in love with him happened just when Hermes introduced him in “Road to Hell”. He walks in and wipes off some tables, managing to completely turn his back to the audience right when he’s being introduced. I heard in the cast recording that Hermes calls Orpheus’ name twice, but I never realized that he was trying to get his attention because he was so distracted. Orpheus does eventually turn around, looking a bit dazed, and then he bashfully waves to the audience. Another moment I loved occurred at the end of “Way Down Hadestown” when Eurydice shows interest in Hadestown. As Hades and Persephone disappear, Orpheus grabs her around the waist and physically holds her back. A couple of things in act two also caught my eye. During “Epic III” he sings part of the song directly to Eurydice, which creates this beautiful mirroring effect where Orpheus is looking at Eurydice on one side of the stage, and Hades is looking at Persephone on the other side. And then there’s when Orpheus turns around. The blocking here is a bit awkward because Orpheus has to face the back of the stage in order to watch Eurydice disappear back into Hadestown, but the way he falls on his knees and stares blankly at where she disappeared for an entire song afterwards, conveys all the emotion it needs to.

Eurydice: Act one Eurydice was so much fun to watch. “Wedding Song” felt like Eurydice at her most confident. She seemed to own the stage as Orpheus sung after her, and the way she’d throw a sarcastic comment and then strike a flirty pose earned her lots of laughs. I also liked the brief point of time in “All I’ve Ever Known” where she shies away from Orpheus’ touch, emphasizing that she isn’t used to that type of relationship. Her trip down to Hadestown was a lot more heartbreaking as well. When she arrives in Hadestown toward the end of “Why We Build the Wall”, she very quickly becomes frightened of the mass of workers singing at her and flinches away from them. Afterwards, during “Way Down Hadestown (Reprise)” she actually goes over to Hermes as though to ask for help. Though Hermes looks like he wants to help her, her face falls when she realizes there isn’t anything he can do. Eurydice’s story had me close to tears more than I expected.

Hermes: The first thing that struck me with Hermes is just how much care and concern he directs at Orpheus. From the way he rolls his eyes at Orpheus when he immediately walks up to Eurydice and says “come home with me”, to the concern on his face when he watches over Orpheus as he’s trying to finish his song. I also adored his relationship with Persephone. Persephone spent a lot of time in his corner of the stage where the two would share drinks. The way they both walked on stage for “Our Lady of the Underground” immediately made the audience sit up in interest. Their position, arm-in-arm and laughing with each other, made me feel like we were missing some kind of inside joke between them. She kissed him on the cheek too, although she jokingly made a face beforehand. Hermes’ relationship with Hades grabbed me as well. The first time Hermes catches Hades’ eye in act two, they have a pretty intense stare down that’s only broken when Hades decides to walk away. During “His Kiss, The Riot” Hermes stands on one side of stage as a kind of blockade, representing the unavoidable decision Hades has to make. I didn’t expect him to actually be standing there when Hades makes his decision to let Orpheus and Eurydice go but with the caveat that she must walk behind him. It makes his understanding of the situation, especially knowing the conflict Hades is dealing with, that much deeper.

Persephone: She’s always been my favorite character but her little quirks really solidify that for me. She shines from the first moment she’s on stage at the beginning of the show. I loved watching her and Hades sitting in the balcony. The two seem so close and yet so far apart as they’re sitting there, both doing their own thing but still glancing at one another. When she leaves she goes to kiss him on the cheek but he turns away, and you can see on her face how much that hurts her. She kisses him on the cheek anyway, but she seems pretty disgruntled afterwards until she emerges for “Livin’ it Up on Top”. I thought it was a really sweet choice to have her caress Orpheus’ face and Eurydice’s shoulder after the song, as if she approves of their romance. But back to her relationship with Hades, the switch of her behavior in “Way Down Hadestown” alone is worth discussing. At the beginning of the song she collapses fully to the ground and struggles to get up, which conveyed to me both a serious depression and a serious level of drunkenness that was fitting for her opinions of Hadestown. But when he arrives they smile at each other, and she’s even quick to laugh off the way he gets temporarily thrown off by Eurydice. Which, in “Chant” quickly goes away when she’s taken to Hadestown and gets her first look at it from the balcony. She stares down at the workers in horror and you really see her disgust throughout the entire song. She outright storms off when Hades goes after Eurydice. But then, when Hades offers the flower at the end of act two, she bursts into tears and you see how much she genuinely loves him.

Hades: As I said above, there’s a lot of interesting moments between Hades and Persephone in the show, some of which are reportedly exclusive to the tour. The way Hades turns away from Persephone as she leaves, not to disregard her but as a clear act of hurt because she’s leaving, felt so important to both characters. But when he came back to get Persephone he was all smiles and laughter. When directed at Eurydice these things seemed very sinister, but with Persephone his happiness felt more genuine. I feel like that fact translated to the dance at the end of act two as well. Persephone and Hades laugh their way through the dance as if they’ve never enjoyed themselves more. These two really felt like a couple that had once gotten along very well but had fallen apart in recent years. I also thought that his attitude towards Eurydice in “Hey Little Songbird” was some of the most interesting bits of character work in the show. On the one hand, Hades is being sly and trying to lure Eurydice into a false sense of comfort. But on the other hand, he snaps at her whenever she goes off to consider his words, as though he lacks any patience for her at all. It made me think that Hades didn’t really want to be there even though he was enacting his own plan. And just, the way he leans his head on Persephone’s shoulder right before “His Kiss the Riot” made my heart melt.

That’s it! I wish I had more to write about because there was so much happening on stage that I very likely missed some things. I would love to get to see this touring cast again soon so I can fill in some of those gaps. In any case, I hope those of you that were curious about this are satisfied with these little details. Details bring the show to life in a way that can’t be replicated. This is also why I’m hoping the official footage of the original Broadway cast gets released so I can see the little moments in that production as well. Either way, I hope as many of you as possible catch this amazing show while it’s on tour! Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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