Tony-winning smash ‘Hadestown’ takes DC to ‘hell and back’ at National Theatre

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Hadestown' at National Theatre (Part 1)

It earned 14 Tony Award nominations and won eight, including Best Musical on Broadway.

On Tuesday, the acclaimed musical “Hadestown” hits National Theatre in D.C. from June 6 to June 18.

“You all have to check out what truly is a myth in the living flesh, Hadestown,” actress Hannah Whitley told WTOP. “We’ll be here for two weeks and I expect you all to be here. Come see how the world can be! That’s the slogan of the show, but it’s so true. Honestly, I think Hadestown does a beautiful job reflecting what the world could be and what the world is now. Most of the show has that paradox on repeat.”

The story intertwines two mythic tales: King Hades and his wife Persephone, and the young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice (Whitley), taking audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back.

“The story really tells the tale of their two love stories and how they intertwine, how the lovers can learn from each other and ultimately how you can go to hell and back,” Whitley said. “It’s a really fun story based on Greek mythology but absolutely a complete reinvention of the tale. Although it’s a story that’s been told for centuries, it’s also very much about the world we live in today and basically how we can survive 2023 right now.”

The dazzling musical features beguiling melodies by songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, who won the Tony for Best Original Score thanks to numbers like “Road to Hell,” “Way Down Hadestown,” “Chant” and “Wait for Me.”

“I love [‘Road to Hell’], the opening of the show, it’s so much fun and it brings you into the world every night, it’s such a fun start to the show,” Whitley said. “”Wedding Song’ is a bop. ‘When the Chips are Down,’ honestly, walk on the treadmill to that song. I work on the show eight days a week and I’m still listening to it when I work out. … You gotta love ‘Wait for Me,’ I love watching it every night. It’s truly eye candy and the staging on that never gets old.”

Tony-winning director Rachel Chavkin (“Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”) was born in D.C. and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, but now plunges audiences into depths of the underworld in “Hadestown.”

“It looks like an old bar or an old jazz hub,” Whitley said. “It’s actually inspired by Preservation Hall in New Orleans. It’s rustic, homey, mysterious. … It starts off dark and there’s smoke in the air and you’re like, ‘Where are we? Are we at a bar?’ But then as soon as the musicians and actors come on, that stage and that set is filled with life, so even though it’s one central set piece, it makes you feel like you’re in so many different locations.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Hadestown' at National Theatre (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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