Hadestown (musical)

Hadestown is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Anaïs Mitchell. The original version of the musical premiered in the town of Barre, Vermont in 2006. There was also a production in Vergennes in the same year and a tour between Vermont and Massachusetts in 2007. Then Mitchell, unsure about the future of the musical, turned it into a concept album, released in 2010.[1]

Broadway promotional poster
MusicAnaïs Mitchell
LyricsAnaïs Mitchell
BookAnaïs Mitchell
Productions2006 Barre
2006 Vergennes
2007 Vermont/Massachusetts Tour
2010 Concept album
2016 Off-Broadway
2017 Edmonton
2018 London
2019 Broadway
AwardsTony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Original Score
Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical

In 2012, Mitchell met director Rachel Chavkin, and the two started to rework the stage production, with additional songs and dialogue. The new version of the musical, developed for the stage and directed by Chavkin, premiered Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on May 6, 2016 and ran through July 31. Following productions in Edmonton and London, the show premiered in previews on Broadway in March 2019.

The musical tells a version of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus goes to the underworld to rescue his fiancée Eurydice.

The Broadway production opened to critical acclaim and received numerous awards and nominations. At the 73rd Tony Awards, Hadestown received a total of 14 nominations (the most for the evening) and won eight of them, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.


Act I

In a Great Depression-era inspired post-apocalyptic setting, the god Hermes, the narrator, enters to introduce each of the characters ("Road to Hell"). This is followed by the three Fates describing the harsh weather of the setting ("Any Way the Wind Blows"). Orpheus, Hermes's ward, and Eurydice emerge and introduce themselves to each other, and Orpheus asks Eurydice to marry him with some encouragement from Hermes ("Come Home With Me"). Eurydice is doubtful, since they both live in poverty and she wants a life of stability. Orpheus, a musician, persuades her by telling her that he is writing a song that will make spring come again, and they will no longer have to struggle ("Wedding Song").

After an interlude in which Orpheus tells the story of Hades and Persephone ("Epic I"), Persephone enters to celebrate the summertime with Orpheus and Eurydice ("Livin' it Up on Top"). Orpheus makes a toast to Persephone and expresses hope for his future with Eurydice, who reflects on her growing love for Orpheus despite her independence ("All I've Ever Known"). The two promise to stay with each other no matter what hardships they face.

Winter comes, and along with it a train to bring Persephone back to Hadestown – Hades' underground factory – against her wishes. Orpheus and Eurydice watch as Persephone voices her misery at having to return to the factory, while the Fates appear to praise Hadestown's riches. Despite hearing about Hades' harsh treatment of his workers, Eurydice is intrigued ("Way Down Hadestown"). As winter progresses, Orpheus continues to write music while Eurydice urges him to work so they can have food and shelter ("A Gathering Storm"/"Epic II"). At the same time, Hades and Persephone fight about the decline of their own relationship ("Chant").

Hades leaves the factory to find someone who will appreciate the safety and comfort of Hadestown. He comes across Eurydice and asks her to join him in Hadestown ("Hey Little Songbird"). The Fates arrive, and urge Eurydice to put her survival first ("When the Chips are Down"). With Orpheus away working on his music, Eurydice chooses survival and decides to follow Hades to the factory ("Gone, I'm Gone"). When Orpheus returns to look for Eurydice, Hermes tells him that she's gone to Hadestown and tells Orpheus how to get there without the use of Hades' train ("Wait For Me"). Eurydice arrives at Hadestown, and begins her work on the wall surrounding it ("Why We Build the Wall").

Act II

Following an entr'acte where Persephone introduces herself and the band ("Our Lady Of The Underground"), we see Eurydice realizing the true consequences of her choice to come to Hadestown: she can never leave unless Hades chooses to let her go ("Way Down Hadestown (Reprise)"). After signing her contract with Hades, she sings of her regrets ("Flowers").

Orpheus, having made his way to Hadestown following Hermes' directions, finds Eurydice and begs her to come home and marry him. Eurydice and the Fates tell Orpheus that she legally belongs to Hades and can't return without his permission ("Come Home With Me (Reprise)"). Hades arrives, and Orpheus confronts him. Hades asserts that he does own Eurydice, and attempts to chase Orpheus off his property ("Papers"). The Fates surround an exhausted Orpheus and tell him to give up on saving Eurydice ("Nothing Changes"). Orpheus sings of his despair at losing Eurydice, inspiring the workers of Hadestown to follow Orpheus and oppose the conditions in which they are made to work. Persephone also overhears ("If It's True"). Touched by Orpheus' music, Persephone tells Hades to let Eurydice go ("How Long"). Hades bitterly offers Orpheus a chance to sing for him ("Chant (Reprise)"). Orpheus sings the complete version of the song he'd been writing all this time, reminding Hades of his love for Persephone ("Epic III"). Orpheus and Eurydice affirm their love for each other and once again promise to stay with each other ("Promises"). Hades is affected more by Orpheus' song than he had expected, and the Fates explain his dilemma: if he keeps Eurydice captive, she becomes a martyr, but if he lets her go, then he loses his authoritarian control over the factory – his workers, having heard Orpheus' music, have begun to agitate for their own freedom ("Word to the Wise"). He decides to leave their fate in Orpheus' hands: the couple can leave together, but Orpheus has to lead them out. If he turns to see if Eurydice is following him, she will belong to Hades forever ("His Kiss, the Riot").

Hermes explains Hades' decision to Orpheus and Eurydice. While Hades and Persephone promise to give their relationship another try the next time she returns to Hadestown, Orpheus begins the walk out of Hadestown with Eurydice following him ("Wait for Me (Reprise)"). Orpheus makes it right up until the very end of the journey, when he is overcome with doubt and turns to look for Eurydice – only to see that she's been right behind him all along, thus condemning her to stay in Hadestown forever ("Doubt Comes In").

Hermes, now somber, reflects on the story's ending; yet he does so via a reprise of the first song, and so begins to tell the story again. In explanation, he remarks that no matter how many times they sing it, people always hope for a happier ending—and that this is the value of continuing to sing the tale, and of Orpheus's gifts: "[to] make you see how the world could be/in spite of the way that it is.” Thus, he says, the story is “a love song/for anyone who tries" ("Road to Hell (Reprise)"). The show closes with Persephone and Eurydice raising a toast to Orpheus after the curtain call, reiterating the theme of hope despite unhappy circumstances: "Some birds sing when the sun is bright/My praise is not for them/But the one who sings in the dead of night/I raise my cup to him" ("We Raise our Cups").

Musical numbers

New York Theatre Workshop, New York

All songs are adapted from Mitchell's album, aside from "Any Way the Wind Blows" from her album Xoa, except where noted.

† Not included on Original Cast Recording ‡ Original material

Citadel Theatre - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Royal National Theatre - London, England / Walter Kerr Theatre - Broadway

Production history

Hadestown was performed as a stage production in the cities of Barre and Vergennes in 2006, before going into a seven-day, ten-city tour between Anaïs Mitchell's home state of Vermont and Massachusetts in 2007.[1][2] Mitchell described the first incarnation of the show as "a D.I.Y. theatre project." The creative team included primary orchestrator/arranger Michael Chorney and original director/designer Ben T. Matchstick, as well as a cast drawn from local artists in Vermont.[3][4] In 2010, a concept album was released.

In her search for a director, Mitchell sought out Rachel Chavkin in 2012 after watching a production of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 directed by Chavkin. In the transition from concept album to stage musical, Mitchell wrote an additional 15 songs and added dialogue to clarify the story line and deepen characterization. The 15 new songs were developed after Mitchell and Chavkin discussed gaps in the album's story line. Michael Chorney created the primary orchestrations and arrangements, with Todd Sickafoose contributing additional/co-arrangements and orchestrations.[3] Hadestown premiered at New York Theatre Workshop for an initial run from May 3 through July 3, 2016, but was later extended due to popular demand through July 31. The production starred Damon Daunno as Orpheus, Nabiyah Be as Eurydice, Amber Gray as Persephone, Patrick Page as Hades, Chris Sullivan as Hermes, and Lulu Fall, Jessie Shelton, and Shaina Taub as the Fates.[2][5]

On October 14, 2016, an EP was released featuring four songs from the musical, recorded live on June 28 and 29, 2016.[6] A full live album was released on October 6, 2017.[7]

Hadestown was presented in an intended pre-Broadway run as part of the 2017-18 season at Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Rachel Chavkin once again served as director, with performances scheduled for November 11 - December 3, 2017, with Amber Gray and Patrick Page reprising their roles from NYTW. The production was presented in collaboration with Mara Isaacs and Dale Franzen, who produced the Off-Broadway run.[8] The NYTW production was also featured in the award-winning documentary series Working in the Theatre produced by the American Theatre Wing.[9]

Ahead of a 2019 Broadway transfer, Hadestown was performed in the Olivier Theatre of the National Theatre in London. Making its UK debut, it ran from November 2, 2018 to January 26, 2019.[10] The production team included Rachel Hauck for scenic design, Michael Krass for costume design, Bradley King for lighting design, Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz for sound design, David Neumann for choreography, and Liam Robinson for musical direction.[11] Patrick Page, Amber Gray, and Reeve Carney reprised their performances in the National Theatre production, joined by Eva Noblezada, André De Shields (who had participated in some early workshops of the production),[12] Carly Mercedes Dyer, Rosie Fletcher, and Gloria Onitiri.[13]

Hadestown opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre, with previews beginning on March 22, 2019 and opening night set for April 17, 2019.[14] Page, Gray, De Shields, Carney, and Noblezada reprise their performances for the Broadway production, and are joined by Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzales-Nacer, and Kay Trinidad.[15] The production team also reunites Hauck for scenic design, Krass for costume design, King for lighting design, Steinberg and Jessica Paz for sound design, Neumann for choreography, and Robinson for musical direction.

In August 2019, it was announced during an episode of Good Morning America that Hadestown would begin a national tour in 2020.[16]


Character Vermont/Massachusetts Tour
Concept album
New York Theatre Workshop, 2016
Citadel Theatre, 2017[18][19][20]
Royal National Theatre, 2018
Walter Kerr Theatre, 2019
Orpheus Ben Campbell Justin Vernon Damon Daunno Reeve Carney
Eurydice Anaïs Mitchell Nabiyah Be T.V. Carpio Eva Noblezada
Hades David Symons Greg Brown Patrick Page
Persephone Miriam Bernardo Ani DiFranco Amber Gray
Hermes Ben T. Matchstick Ben Knox Miller Chris Sullivan Kingsley Leggs André De Shields
The Fates Sarah-Dawn Albani
Lisa Raatikainen
Nessa Rabin
The Haden Triplets Lulu Fall
Jessie Shelton
Shaina Taub
Jewelle Blackman
Kira Guloien
Evangelia Kambites
Carly Mercedes Dyer
Rosie Fletcher
Gloria Onitiri
Jewelle Blackman
Yvette Gonzales-Nacer
Kay Trinidad


Mitchell released a concept album based on the musical, working on it for over a year. It was released on March 9, 2010 through Righteous Babe Records.[1]

A live cast recording of the Off-Broadway production was released digitally and on CD on October 6, 2017 through Parlophone Records. A four-track EP entitled Why We Build The Wall (Selections from Hadestown. The Myth. The Musical. Live Original Cast Recording) was released for digital retailers on October 13, 2016 in promotion of the album.

A Broadway cast recording was released in full on July 26, 2019 through Sing It Again Records.[21][22] A physical two-CD recording will be available at a later date.[23]


Hadestown received generally positive critical reviews. The New York Times described the Off-Broadway production as "inventive" and "gorgeously sung," praising its simplicity and intimacy.[24] The Hollywood Reporter described the added dialogue as "wince-inducing" but favored its high energy and immersive staging.[25] Several reviews drew parallels between the song "Why We Build the Wall" and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, though the song predates the campaign.[24][25]

The production opened on Broadway on April 17, 2019 to mainly positive critical reception, with praise especially directed at its direction and performances, particularly those of Amber Gray and Patrick Page.[26] The New York Times called it "gorgeous" and "hypnotic", especially noting its improvement from the New York Theater Workshop version.[27] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter calls it "utterly fabulous", in particular praising the performances of Gray and Page.[28]

Awards and nominations

Off-Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater[29] Won
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical Bradley King Nominated
Drama League Awards Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Nominated
Lucille Lortel Awards Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer David Neumann Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical Patrick Page Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical Amber Gray Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Chris Sullivan Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design Rachel Hauck Nominated
Outstanding Sound Design Robert Kaplowitz Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical Nominated

Edmonton production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award[30] Timothy Ryan Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Director Rachel Chavkin Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Amber Gray Won
Outstanding Set Design Rachel Hauck Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Michael Krass Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Bradley King Won
Outstanding Musical Director Liam Robinson Nominated
Outstanding Choreography or Fight Direction David Neumann Nominated

Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
Tony Awards[31][32] Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Anaïs Mitchell Nominated
Best Original Score Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical Eva Noblezada Nominated
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical André De Shields Won
Patrick Page Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical Amber Gray Nominated
Best Scenic Design in a Musical Rachel Hauck Won
Best Costume Design in a Musical Michael Krass Nominated
Best Lighting Design in a Musical Bradley King Won
Best Sound Design of a Musical Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz Won
Best Direction of a Musical Rachel Chavkin Won
Best Choreography David Neumann Nominated
Best Orchestrations Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose Won
Drama Desk Awards[33] Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical André De Shields Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Rachel Chavkin Won
Outstanding Choreography David Neumann Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical Rachel Hauck Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical Michael Krass Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical Bradley King Won
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz Won
Drama League Awards[34] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical Won
Distinguished Performance Award Amber Gray Nominated
André De Shields Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards[35] Outstanding New Broadway Musical Won
Outstanding Book of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Anaïs Mitchell Nominated
Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Reeve Carney Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical André De Shields Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Amber Gray Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Rachel Chavkin Won
Outstanding Choreographer David Neumann Nominated
Outstanding Scenic Design (Play or Musical) Rachel Hauck Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Bradley King Won
Outstanding Sound Design (Play or Musical) Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose Nominated
Broadway.com Audience Awards[36] Favorite New Musical Nominated
Favorite Leading Actor in a Musical Reeve Carney Nominated
Favorite Leading Actress in a Musical Eva Noblezada Won
Favorite Featured Actor in a Musical Andre de Shields Nominated
Favorite Featured Actress in a Musical Amber Gray Nominated
Favorite Diva Performance Amber Gray Nominated
Favorite Onstage Pair Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada Nominated
Favorite New Song "Wait for Me" Won
Chita Rivera Awards[37]
Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show David Neumann Won
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show Amber Gray Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show Nominated
ACCA Award[38] Outstanding Broadway Chorus Won
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Reeve Carney, André De Shields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada & Patrick Page (principal soloists); Mara Isaacs, David Lai, Anaïs Mitchell & Todd Sickafoose (producers); Anaïs Mitchell (composer & lyricist) Pending


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  22. @anaismitchell (1 June 2019). "David! We got deep into editing & mixing these (beautiful! epic!) performances and realized we just need more time! We care sooooo much about this music and we know you do too— thank you for your patience from the bottom of our hearts! It will be worth the wait! 🦄🦄🦄" (Tweet) via Twitter.
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