by Sarah and Myah Schultz
The entirety of the Hadestown cast and orchestra is astonishingly talented. There’s not a weak link in the bunch. On March 15, Minneapolis audiences were treated to performances by understudies Sydney Parra (Eurydice) and Chibueze Ihuoma (Orpheus). Parra’s Eurydice is scrappy and guarded, with a strong and lovely voice. She floats through the gentle and intricate strains of “Flowers,” and belts out piercing desperation as she follows Orpheus out of Hadestown in “Doubt Comes In.” Ihuoma plays an achingly sweet Orpheus; he is totally guileless and impossible not to love. He reaches each soaring falsetto melody with ease, capably living up to the legend of the golden voiced demigod.
From the first syncopated notes of the opening number, Audrey Ochoa and her trombone steal the show. She fills the theater with sound that doesn’t seem like it could come from a single horn. Each high note soars effortlessly; each uber low pedal tone rumbles ominously. Ochoa shifts deftly between a clear, ringing timbre and a gnarled, gritty growl. In addition to playing brilliantly, she takes a moment during “Livin’ It Up On Top” to saunter to the front of the stage and execute some fancy footwork- literally without missing a beat.
The five person workers chorus (on March 15- Ian Coulter-Buford, Alex Lugo, Will Mann, Eddie Noel Rodríguez, and Jamari Johnson Williams) is incredibly dynamic. At the top of the show, they are vibrant individuals. They party with Persephone, dancing and flaunting their own unique personalities. When we see them later in Hadestown, they are soulless automatons. They wear identical greasy overalls and move in jarring synchronicity, toiling slowly and mechanically on a rotating section of centerstage. The workers never pull focus. They chillingly underscore all of the action onstage, almost more as set pieces than as characters. The choreography and their execution thereof is sickeningly effective.
The Fates are embodied by Belén Moyano, Bex Odorisio, and Shea Renne, draped in gauzy, smoke colored dresses and head wraps. They manage to form an incredibly cohesive unit without losing their individuality. The fates are more than just passive deities; they sew chaos and revel in discord- all while singing in stunning 3 part harmony. Never idle- they also pick up instruments from time to time. While Hades decides whether or not to let Orpheus and Eurydice leave Hadestown- the Fates hover gleefully. One drones on a violin, another pulses an accordion, and the third steadily rotates a chain of tiny bells. This creates an unbelievably tense and eerie soundscape.
Hadestown is not a happy story. It’s gut-wrenching and filled with despair. But it’s also mesmerizing, gorgeous, and peppered with moments of laughter and hope.
Hadestown is playing March 15-20, 2022 at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. For tickets visit the State Theatre Box Office (805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis), call (800) 982-2787, or visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org.