Opening NightHow Did Hadestown’s Anaïs Mitchell Write Orpheus’ Famous Broadway Melody?The cast and creative team talk what changed Off-Broadway to Broadway, secret backstories of their characters, and more on the opening night red carpet.
Having sold out much of its preview period, the new musical Hadestown officially opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre April 17, and Playbill was on hand to greet the cast and creative team during the opening night celebration.
Hadestown is presented as a concert—its scenic design from Rachel Hauck inspired by music venues like Preservation Hall. Chavkin explained the concert concept, telling Playbill “first and foremost because the music is so spectacular, but I think the that the way that Anaïs’ storytelling is set up she is at her core a songwriter so each song is it's own performative event, which is a kind of contract you see actually in a concert more than in theatre necessarily.”
That concert idea stayed from Hadestown’s premiere production Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, but a lot has changed. “My experience was, at the New York Theatre Workshop there were a number of different aesthetic possibilities on the table and hopefully to me it feels like much more of a cohesive whole now,” Chavkin continued. “The big thing that was missing at NYTW which we always knew was the workers. That was an enormous element of the storytelling that wasn't present. So in ‘Wait For Me II,’ for example, that song was always there but now the workers have this incredibly pivotal verse.”
Mitchell agrees that the story has expanded, but the core remains the same. “In a lot of ways the story has always felt like it had four or five main characters,” she said. “I’ve heard the actors say they have the experience onstage where they can feel audience members of different ages responding to different moments in the show. I love that idea that it can speak to people at different points in their life at different points in the story.”
Hadestown marks Mitchell’s Broadway debut, but her melodies have already permeated Broadway. Mitchell revealed how Orpheus’ Epic first came to her.
“I think I was at the guitar and the thing about that melody is it's so simple,” she said. “It’s not really that many notes. It’s the simplest thing. It goes from minor to major and back to minor. I tried to write words for that melody time and again and I could never find the words for it and it felt like it always wanted to exist as just music and in a way that felt right for Orpheus’ gift to the gods to just be this very simple gift—the returning of this love song, this very simple melody that they’d forgotten.”
For more insider secrets, watch the livestream above.
Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of Hadestown on Broadway