The tour, currently making a stop at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre via Center Theatre Group, proves that we never should've doubted its staying power.

To the world we dream about, and the one we live in now…

I'm certain I'm not alone in the fact that those words, Persephone's poignant toast in the musical Hadestown, were a touchpoint for me throughout the pandemic.

Anaïs Mitchell spent over a decade developing Hadestown into a Broadway musical, but its curious gift is that it only seems to get more relevant as time marches on. Perhaps it's because it's based upon myth, and their entire purpose is to act as foundational, reflective stories.

When Hadestown premiered on Broadway in 2019, it seemed like a parable of our current times — songs about building walls, a commentary on climate change, and the pulsing reminder that story is the one thing that keeps propelling us forward. Then, the world went on hold. Everything and nothing changed.

Spring comes again with the national tour of 'Hadestown'
| Credit: T Charles Erickson

One had to wonder how Hadestown would age while we were paused, and how, in particular, it would survive without its singular original Broadway cast. But the national tour, currently making a stop at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre via Center Theatre Group, proves that we never should've doubted its staying power. If anything, it's only grown more resonant in its time away.

Rachel Hauck's evocative set design remains largely intact, its French Quarter balconies and wrought-iron balustrades are still the center of the action. It's hard not to mourn the loss of the central turbine in the floor, which cast members rise in and out of, but they've devised a clever alternative, creating a train car door that opens and closes like an industrial hell-mouth.

The cast tackles Mitchell's music and lyrics with a ferocity and a joy that pulls the audience into its undertow, whether they're ready to surrender to it or not. Nicholas Barasch is a sprightly Orpheus, tracking the young poet's journey from naïve innocent to tragic hero with a warm subtlety enhanced by his mop of unruly ginger hair. Hermes describes Orpheus as "touched," and in the Broadway production, Reeve Carney leans heavily into that. Barasch has a lighter hand here, making Orpheus more innocent than addled.

Morgan Siobhan Green is a superb foil to Barasch's bright light as Eurydice, a young woman beaten down by the world who clings to hope in spite of herself. Green has a guttural belt, one that reaches down into the soul and takes hold. Her Eurydice is wilder, more untethered, and Mitchell's exquisite lyricism gives her room to let loose.

It would be nigh impossible to replicate or come close to André De Shields iconic turn as Hermes, the show's narrator. But Tony winner Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet) makes the role his own, transforming De Shields' suave, silver-tongued messenger into a jazz crooner reminiscent of Harry Connick Jr.

Credit: T Charles Erickson

The show's emotional heart remains Persephone (Kimberly Marable) and Hades (Kevyn Morrow), the push and pull of their strange romance utterly mesmerizing. Both Marable and Morrow had big shoes to fill, but they mostly are up to the task. Marable is a more soulful Persephone in contrast to Amber Gray's heartbreakingly frazzled, louche take; her hurt nearer the surface throughout. No one could ever match the velvet timbre of Patrick Page's Hades, but Morrow lends Hades a new degree of menace, a sharpness that brings out the perpetual danger he carries with him.

The fact is the bones of Hadestown are so good that it would be affecting no matter what. But watching this now, after the two years of loss and isolation we have collectively suffered, it feels even more poignant and startling.

As we still continue to emerge from the wreckage, the notion that spring will come again is more powerful than ever. The show reminds us that this is a story that has been told again and again, that this suffering, these loves and these losses, and this capacity to sing through our pain and hope it turns out differently next time is eternal. There's a comfort and a peculiar beauty in that, stretching across the centuries from the ancients to our own times. And only a songbird as gifted as Mitchell could grant us that. A-

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