HADESTOWN, singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell’s innovative collaboration with director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone.
Kevyn Morrow, whose Broadway credits include Moulin Rouge, The Color Purple, Bandstand, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dream, Smokey Joe’s Café and numerous others, infuses King Hades with the cool, calm demeanor of an immaculately dressed, excruciatingly put together man-in-charge who won’t be pushed too far without devastating impact.
Morrow recently spoke about the production’s timeless themes, some of his favorite performance moments and the rewards of playing for audiences that are often seeing their first live theatrical performance since the pandemic. Texas fans of Broadway can soon see Morrow in action as Hadestown travels to Houston, Austin and Dallas and Austin in January. (Details below.)
Having played so many roles on Broadway and elsewhere, what unique aspects about this production make it meaningful and memorable for you?
First of all, I love that this “musical” is not like your typical musical. It tells its story almost completely through song; very little dialogue is spoken. Secondly, although I did not create this role of Hades, I have been given the great opportunity to create my interpretation, my version of Hades. In recasting a set show, it is extremely rare for the new cast to be given the license to create their own take on the role.
How would you describe the character King Hades in this production?
I see Hades as a businessman who has become extremely successful, but who also has lost sense of the reasons for why he has worked so hard. Mythologically, I find Hades always gets a bad rap. I see him as someone who makes the most out of what he was dealt, having been given the underworld to rule. His “deals” with people’s lives and souls are clear…just be sure to read the fine print. He’s a businessman.
Do you have some favorite or particularly challenging moments in the show?
I love “Papers.” For me, this is the first time you see a clear picture of the darker side of Hades as a businessman and God of the underworld. There are brief moments earlier but here is the first full display for me to play. Most challenging, but also one of my all-time favorites, is “His Kiss, the Riot.” Getting to go all out, as a mad (crazy) Shakespearean King is a total rush and fatiguing in its execution as an actor, and I love it, but am also a little scared of it every night.
What are some of the timeless themes of this production which resonate today?
There’s always hope. If you don’t succeed the first time, you can try again and again and again. The show also brings to mind poverty, female empowerment, devastation of the planet, equality and love; all (part of the) current conversation.
Is this the first production for you since the pandemic shuttered live audience performances?
I was fortunate enough to work on film and television through the shutdown, and two new Broadway-bound musical workshops. However, this is indeed my first experience back in front, on a stage, with a live audience since the shutdown, and there is nothing like it. So far on the tour, we have been the first live performances for many of our audiences. The wave of gratitude, joy and love we’ve felt has been overwhelming, and we’ve felt the same towards the audiences. To be back doing what we love and have audiences who love what we do…who could ask for more?
HADESTOWN, the winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards,® including Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Theater Album, plays in three Texas locations during the month of January:
- In Houston, HADESTOWN is part of the Memorial Hermann Broadway at the Hobby Center season and is at the Hobby Center Jan. 4-9, 2022. Tickets are available by phone at (800) 982-2787; online at www.TheHobbyCenter.org or www.BroadwayAtTheHobbyCenter.com; the Hobby Center Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
- Austin theatre-goers can see HADESTOWN at the Bass Concert Hall Jan. 11-16, as part of the Texas Performing Arts presents Broadway In Austin lineup of shows. Tickets are available at www.texasperformingarts.org/and BroadwayinAustin.com, by phone at (512) 477-1444, or from the Texas Performing Arts ticket office at Bass Concert Hall.
- In Dallas, HADESTOWN will be performed Jan. 18-30 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals presents Broadway In Dallas. Tickets are available at dallassummermusicals.org and BroadwayinDallas.com, by phone at (214) 880-0202, and at all Ticketmaster outlets.
Cover photo courtesy T Charles Erickson