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Review: ‘Hadestown’ at Broward Center isn’t just a Broadway show, it’s a masterwork

Will Mann and the company of "Hadestown." (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
T. Charles Erickson
Will Mann and the company of “Hadestown.” (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
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From the first blaaat of the trombone, you get the New Orleans vibe of “Hadestown.”

That will carry through until the very end of the Broadway musical, which is set in the Depression era and — strangely enough — is a retelling of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and that of King Hades and wife Persephone.

Yes, a quick Wikipedia glance may serve you well before catching the national tour that’s now playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale through Jan. 21. Keep in mind that though the music spans jazz and folk genres, this is not a typical jazz-hands Broadway kind of production. There isn’t a tap number.

What there is instead is a brilliantly inventive magnum opus by , a masterwork that garnered eight Tony Awards when — after a rambling route of out-of-town productions, a concert tour, a concept album and off-Broadway stagings — the show debuted on the Great White Way in 2019.

Narrated by Hermes, the sung-through musical (scant dialogue) follows the paths of multiple characters: Eurydice, racked with hunger, stumbles into a Bourbon Street nightclub where waiter/songwriter/lyre-player Orpheus is smitten immediately. Meanwhile, Persephone makes her usual springtime visit, drawing the attention of her lover, Hades, to the scenario in the nightclub. Eurydice decides to work in Hades’ underworld factory, signing a contract that gives her soul away. And Orpheus descends, to try to rescue Eurydice armed only with his song.

The "Hadestown" North American Tour, which is now at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale Jan 9-21. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
The “Hadestown” North American Tour, which is now at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale Jan 9-21. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)

This is theater with a capital T …. and probably in italics to boot. If you are prone to dropping the word “erudite” in casual conversations, then don’t miss it. If you just Googled the word “erudite,” no worries: There is enough here — broad lusty humor, earthy lyrics and stagecraft razzle-dazzle — to keep you thoroughly entertained, but in a noticeably different way.

Other shows try to pin you to the back of your seat. “Hadestown” is more of a sonic caress, its charms are softer and more subtle, but effective nonetheless.

And this cast sings the score as if it is embedded in their very DNA, with all the tonal shifts, subtle shadings, deft harmonies and tricky melismas delivered with virtuosic panache. The seven-piece band, perched onstage as the “house band” of the New Orleans nightclub (save for a drummer backstage), sounds much bigger and fuller than it should. Granted, a few cast members pick up a few instruments — an accordion here, a violin there, a guitar everywhere — but even that can’t explain the marvel of it all. The sound design is crystalline.

With all that “Hadestown” has got going for it, it may seem awfully nitpicky to mention some of the teeny-tiny little tragedies in the production. The choreography, at times, looks like it was supposed to be something else but got revamped … recently.

And if you feel that the story isn’t moving forward as briskly as it could, or that the second act could be shaved down a bit since the musical runs two and half hours (including a 15-minute intermission), it’s probably because you’re not accustomed to ancient Greek time.

It seems that gods like to take their time. And we mere mortals, well, we can still be entranced by their age-old stories, especially when told in a Big Easy way.

The Broadway national tour of "Hadestown" reimagines the Greek legends of Orpheus and Eurydice and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
T. Charles Erickson
The Broadway national tour of “Hadestown” reimagines the Greek legends of Orpheus and Eurydice and that of King Hades and his wife, Persephone. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “HٴǷɲ”

WHEN: Through Jan. 21

WHERE: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

COST: $30-$141, with tickets available for $176

INFORMATION: 954-462-0222;

From top left clockwise: Matthew Patrick Quinn, Lana Gordon, J. Antonio Rodriguez, Will Mann, Amaya Braganza and company in the "Hadestown" North American Tour 2023. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
T. Charles Erickson
From top left clockwise: Matthew Patrick Quinn, Lana Gordon, J. Antonio Rodriguez, Will Mann, Amaya Braganza and company in the “Hadestown” North American Tour 2023. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
The cast of the North American tour of "Hadestown," which will play the Broward Center Jan. 9-21. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)
T. Charles Erickson
The cast of the North American tour of “Hadestown,” which is playing at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. (T. Charles Erickson/Courtesy)

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