Exactly seven years ago, I accompanied a bunch of Weasels to the Union Chapel in Islington where we watched and listened to an amazing concert performance of Hadestown by Anais Mitchell. We had been introduced to the album by John back at Weasels Afloat 2010 and it became a bit of a firm favourite with all of us.
(I don’t know about the others but it also introduced me to the wonderful Thea Gilmore who has a voice and songwriting talent to be reckoned with.)
I’ll often play the album and it instantly takes me back to those incredibly uncomfortable pews and the brilliant concept that was Hadestown. And today, we went one level higher.
But first we need to journey back to May 2018 when John sent around a general Weasel email notifying us of the imminent production of a full scale Hadestown performing in the Olivier Theatre in January 2019. Naturally I wanted in and ordered a ticket, as did five others. And today was the day of reckoning.
John suggested meeting in the Hole in the Wall at Waterloo, a pub I know well as a meeting place for Aldershot fans on their way to London away matches. The front bar is lovely though and that’s where we met up. Well, after Lindy grabbed John, saving him from the wrath of a few thousand FA cup football fans crammed into the darker reaches of the pub.
We had a few ales (they actually had TEA on tap which is always a pleasure to find) and they all ate some carbs before we all headed down to the National under Madame E’s
inexpert navigation. (Her phone makes rather odd choices.)
Eventually we were happily sat in the front row of the upper circle, eager in anticipation, waiting for the show to begin.
And I can only say how utterly brilliant it was. The cast was superb, the band amazing.
The three fates, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri and Rosie Fletcher in delightful harmony ala Andrew Sisters, were extraordinary. The impossibly deep voice of Patrick Page, plunged us deep underground into his evil Hadestown. The wonderful Amber Gray as the boisterous Persephone was perfect with her returning of spring and summer. The very high voice of Reeve Carney as Orpheus and the innocent delight of Eva Noblezada as Eurydice, perfectly matched as the silly young lovers.
But, most of all, the unbelievably cool André De Shields as the silver suited Hermes. You couldn’t take your eyes away from this amazing man. He gripped the audience to such an extent that following the curtain calls, all he had to do was put one finger to his lips and the once screaming, stamping, clapping audience was hushed as the cast sang one last, quiet song. It was an exercise in masterful stagecraft.
And the chorus was also amazing; full of life, giving the show everything they had. It was exhausting to watch and a gift from them all. And the band. The whole thing was so much more than the sum of its parts. Without any cog, the show would not have worked so well.
The show is off to Broadway soon and I hope it sells out every night because it deserves to.