How the world could be: ‘Hadestown’ comes to Philadelphia
'Hadestown' premiered in Philadelphia this February at the Kimmel Cultural Campus. AL DÍA spoke with cast member Belén Moyano in preparation for the musical.
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Hadestown is a musical by American singer-songwriter, musician and playwright Anaïs Mitchell.
The musical has gone through multiple phases, with its first iteration hitting stages in 2006 for a limited release in Barre and Vergennes, Vermont. The musical then embarked on a tour spanning Vermont and Massachusetts one year later.
Hadestown was formatted into a concept album by Mitchell in 2010. The musical was later developed for a wider, off-Broadway release in 2016.
The musical finally made its Broadway debut in early 2019, receiving 14 Tony Awards nominations and notching eight wins.
Among its awards, Hadestown won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
The musical comes from director Rachel Chavkin. Chavkin helped to develop and direct the modern iteration of Hadestown, while the music, lyrics, and text are by Mitchell.
It is the first Broadway production in over a decade to be solo-authored by a woman, with Mitchell having written the music, lyrics and book. Hadestown also marks the fourth ever occurrence of such an accomplishment on Broadway.
After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hadestown became one of the first musicals to reopen on Broadway in the Fall of 2021.
Hadestown in Philly
Hadestown’s arrival in Philly has been a celebratory and triumphant production.
The electrifying and poignant musical is a tale blending mythology with an original narrative of love and fear of loss within a damaged and worsening climate.
In Hadestown, the climate has been altered, with the processes of certain seasons removed and the harshness of others exacerbated.
It tells the story of Orpheus — who falls in love with Eurydice — and his eventual journey to the underworld in search of his love. Along the way, he interacts with beloved characters of Greek mythology such as King Hades, Persephone, and Hermes the Herald.
On his journey, Orpheus also meets three songstresses known as fates. These three fates are ever-present in the events of Hadestown, where they hold destiny to the promises of fate itself.
Typically formed in a trio, the three fates are played by Bex Odorisio, Shea Renne, and Belén Moyano. Moyano is a Latina actress, musician, violinist, and activist who met with AL DÍA to discuss the production.
Moyano first saw Hadestown in 2019, mentioning to her husband that she would one day like to do the show.
Belén Moyano and the fates
Moyano was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Today, she is passionate about representation in the arts, and the presence of Spanish language projects within the same spaces.
The violinist describes the fates as “the Goddesses who decide the destiny of mankind” within Greek mythology.
“Their job is essentially to spin the thread of life, measure it, and… decide when to cut it, which is essentially death,” said Moyano. “Within the show, we play a little bit of that role, but I would say our main goal is to ensure that the story is told in the way it needs to be told… a tragedy.”
Moyano describes the relationship between the fates as that of sisters, close enough to finish or complement one another’s sentences, and does not rule out the possibility of each fate once being sisters, in some realm, as a result of the play’s Greek mythology.
In Greek mythology, Hadestown’s title character, Orpheus, is a poet, musician, and prophet who — as is the case in the musical — travels to the underworld in search of Eurydice. In Hadestown, Orpheus is attempting to bring back Spring and Summer through song.
“In the story of Hadestown, there are many themes that are explored and one of them is climate change, and how in our story the climate is affected by the relationship of Hades and Persephone,” said Moyano.
Moyano has played violin since she was 11. She has played in a number of orchestras in mostly sit-down performances, marking a big change in her Hadestown performance, as she takes on dancing, singing, and acting in addition to the violin — all in one show.
“I never envisioned myself doing something like this,” said Moyano. “It’s really cool to be able to tell the story both as an actor but as a musician.”
Despite the change of pace Hadestown brings, Moyano has already acted in a number of musical productions mainly within her role as singer.
The actress is also Hadestown’s Green Captain for the Broadway Green Alliance, a group of theater professionals thriving to adopt healthier environmental practices within theater.
Being one of the first productions to reopen and return to Broadway, the cast and crew of Philly’s production weren't so far behind, and for many, it was the first time they had danced or performed in the previous 18 months.
This is fitting for the musical, however, as Hadestown is a healing process for today’s day-and-age, a remedy of sorts for the fear of things that are bigger than you.
“[Hadestown] is a story about finding your voice and seeing how the world could be, and finding hope even amidst the darkness, which I think is something that we need nowadays,” said Moyano.
Empowering communities within the arts
In addition to her work in the arts, Moyano is also an activist. Within both interests, there is crossover.
“Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me, necessarily, doing theater in my community, or I didn’t see a lot of people on TV that looked like me,” said Moyano. “That has been a shift within the industry at large. We’re seeing more diversity, we’re being more inclusive of stories that haven’t been shared about communities that haven’t had a voice.”
Moyano has sought for more stories on the stage in Spanish, more stories sung in Spanish. She has even dabbled in English-to-Spanish translation, and cites a Spanish translation of Hadestown as a secret dream.
“The best way that we can support our community is to empower our writers,” said Moyano.
Hadestown is on-stage now in Philly, produced by the Kimmel Cultural Campus, with eight performances across six dates.
The North American touring production of Hadestown stars Nicholas Barasch as Orpheus, Morgan Siobhan Green as Eurydice, Levi Kreis as Hermes, Kimberly Marable as Persephone, and Kevyn Morrow as Hades.
A Workers Chorus is played by Lindsey Hailes, Chibueze Ihuoma, Will Mann, Sydney Parra, and Jamari Johnson Williams.
The crew also includes set designer Rachel Hauck, costume designer Michael Krass, choreographer David Neumann, dramaturgist Ken Cerniglia, Bradley King on lighting design, Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz for sound design, Liam Robinson on music supervision and vocal arrangements, and Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose for arrangements and orchestrations.
The musical is split into two acts, about an hour and five minutes each, with a 20-minute intermission in between. An American Sign Language (ASL) and Audio Description (AD) performance will be held on Feb. 18 at the 8:00 p.m. time slot.
The final performance at the arts center will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20. Tickets for Hadestown are available now.