In all the many variations of the Orpheus-Eurydice Greek myth, one plot point remains the same. Told he can free his love from Hell if he doesn't turn around as they make their way out of the underworld, Orpheus falls prey to his fears and looks back to make sure she's following him — thereby condemning her forever.
The national tour of Hadestown is on its way to the Hobby Center courtesy of Broadway Across America. Nicholas Barasch, who stars as Orpheus, says he has wanted to play the role ever since seeing it on Broadway where it was the winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
His final callback for the national tour was on March 13, 2020. "I got the role a few weeks into the pandemic," he says. "I had the role for over a year before rehearsals started but, of course, I wasn’t sure whether it was happening, whether it was going to get postponed, whether I would have to re-audition. So it was a waiting game but it was worth the wait."
This modern retelling in two acts from singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin, also covers the relationship of Hades and his wife Persephone who spends half the year in Hell, the other half topside. It boasts a modern, eclectic score with beautiful music, Barasch says by phone from Wisconsin where the tour has touched down for a while.
"Like every Greek myth or tragedy it speaks to just very human big themes: loss and love and betrayal and faith and doubt. Obviously it was a tragedy but it speaks to the human experience. It's very fresh and bold and people find it just very unique," Barasch says.
He says he finds things to respect as well as regret about what his character does.
"I think when you look at his trajectory he does go to hell to rescue his wife Eurydice but he’s lied to down there by Hades. He finds out the Eurydice did in fact leave him. He's physically beaten up. He's put to the test and told that he can't turn around or else he can't have her so doubt really comes in and he doesn't have the wherewithal, possibly the discipline to realize that he has what it takes.
"So he loses faith in himself really largely because of how he's treated. He can’t phone a friend or a therapist to get the courage that he needs. I think we all see ourselves in Orpheus because there are times we may not give up but we fail and have trouble getting back up again."
Barasch, who says he comes from a family of writers, debuted on Broadway age age 10 in the 2009 revival of West Side Story. Since then he has been regularly employed in theater as well on television. This, was his first road trip, which he says "is very meta because there's a song called 'Road to Hell.'" The group travels with a COVID compliance manager to try to keep everyone healthy, he says.
Despite the sad ending, the show overall presents a hopeful story, Barasch says. "You get to root for these characters. There's something just really delectable about gods and goddesses in this vibrant world," he says. The musical takes on issues such as the environment and immigration. "here's something very fantastical about it but also very authentic."
Performances are scheduled for January 4-9 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby, . Proof of a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination is required. Masks are to be worn at all times in the venue.For more information, call 800-982-2787 or visit thehobbycenter.or or Broadwayatthehobbycenter.com $35-$236.