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Hadestown: The new flames of the Underworld

Arts and CultureHadestown: The new flames of the Underworld

BY
Staff Reporter

“Hadestown” is a beloved staple in the musical scene, winning several Tonys, including Best Musical and Original Score, and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Brought to life by Anaïs Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin, the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice has had many actors and actresses present their theatrical interpretations to the audience.

That being said, the Underworld is always changing, and there are a slew of updates to the show. From debuts to departures, here is the latest from “Hadestown.”

Debuts and Departures – Broadway

Ani DiFranco and Lola Tung entered the Underworld on Broadway Feb. 9 as Persephone and Eurydice, respectively. They replace Betty Who and Solea Pfeiffer, who had their final performances Feb. 4. Tung will star in the show until March 17, while DiFranco’s departure has yet to be announced.

Both are fans of the beloved musical. Tung saw it during 2020 and DiFranco sang Persephone on the original studio album released with Righteous Babe Records.

Outside of Broadway, Tung is known for her role as Belly in the Amazon Prime show, “The Summer I Turned Pretty.” DiFranco is known for her music and was nominated for nine Grammys, winning one for Best Recording Package for her 2004 work, “Evolve.”

Lillias White will be departing as Hermes on March 17, ending her nearly two-year run as the first female iteration of the character. Her replacement has yet to be announced. She was originally expected to depart the production last June but extended her run. 

White inherited the role in September 2022 from T. Oliver Reid, who in turn had taken the reins from original actor André de Shields.

White won a Tony for her role in 1997’s “The Life.” She also has credits in productions such as “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls, ” “Carrie”, and “Cats” among many others. Upon her casting, director Rachel Chavkin said, “Like the Greek gods themselves, our actors change shapes, size, color, tonality, vibe, and doesn’t it make the world more delightful.”

Alongside DiFranco and Tung, the show stars Phillip Boykin as Hades and Jordan Fisher as Orpheus. Boykin previously starred in “The Music Man,” while Fisher has appeared in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Playing the Fates is Belén Moyano, Brit West and original cast member Kay Trinidad.

Second Premiere – West End

The UK cast of “Hadestown” appeared on London’s theater scene Feb. 10, with previews continuing until its official opening Feb. 21. The cast includes Dónal Finn (“The Wheel of Time”) and Grace Hodgett Young as the leading duo, with Gloria Onitiri (“Bad Cinderella”) as Persephone and Zachary James as Hades. 

Other cast members include Melanie La Barrie as Hermes along with Bella Brown, Madeline Charlemagne and Allie Daniel as the Fates. 

The show first debuted across the pond in 2018 at the National Theatre starring most of the original Broadway cast members, such as Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada. Onitiri also performed in this run and now returns as the Queen of the Underworld.

“We truly loved our time at the National Theatre … it feels like a homecoming to be returning,” Mitchell said. “West End Hadestown will be its own world – born of London and the now – and we can’t wait to discover it.”

A whirlwind of changes is flowing in the Underworld, both on Broadway and the West End. Though there are sure to be more on the way, “Hadestown” will always show its audience what the world could be, even as it returns to its European home.

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