Classic tales are revisited on local stages, with Greek mythology reimagined in “Hadestown,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” coming to life in “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” and Tchaikovsky’s famous holiday ballet reincarnated in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker.”
MUSICAL ‘HADESTOWN’ REIMAGINES GREEK MYTHOLOGY
“Hadestown,” which runs at the Fisher through Dec. 5, was inspired by the Greek mythological characters of Orpheus, Eurydice, Hades, Persephone and Hermes, but it isn’t a dry, ancient tale: It is timeless, and its musical energy leaps off the stage, engaging the audience with intensity and emotion.
It’s a story of love won and lost, hearts and promises broken, betrayal, fate and hope.
This is not your light-hearted, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe type musical – it’s gritty and emotionally uncomfortable, and the costumes and characters are earthy, while the lighting and sound is bright, jarring and, at times, discordant. This is no “sit back and relax” musical.
The first act starts out slowly, then builds in intensity, making audience want more after the intermission. The second act is faster paced, and packed with action and intensity, as one sees the relationship train wrecks inexorably approaching.
There is political symbolism, as well: “Why We Build the Wall” could have been ripped from recent headlines. “Doubt Comes In” reminds one of the insecurities present in even the strongest relationships, and “Road to Hell” begins and ends the show with raw energy and power.
It may not be the type of show you’ll hum the songs from, but it tells a powerful story, even if the plot is deceptively simply.
The Fisher Theater, which now has paid – as opposed to volunteer – ushers, had them walk the aisles several times during the performance, in formation, one usher per aisle, to check for patrons in violation of the mask mandate. A stern nod and a gesture were the only enforcement measured employed with scofflaws. It felt intrusive and distracting, but it is one way to enforce the safety precautions as the pandemic surges. Ironically, it reminded me of the military guards present at the festival as the Von Trapp family performed before fleeing the Third Reich.
The bathroom attendants seemed stressed and strident as well, ordering the women’s restroom line into conformance and hustling attendees into stalls without the friendliness of past seasons. TSA lines seem friendly in comparison. Efficiency was achieved, but one felt unpleasantly herded.
For more information about “Hadestown” and other upcoming shows, go to BroadwayInDetroit.com.
JANE AUSTEN’S ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’ CHARACTERS COME TO LIFE IN ‘THE WICKHAMS: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY’
You don’t have to be a Jane Austen fan or have read “Pride and Prejudice” to enjoy the Open Book Theater Company’s wonderfully performed holiday play, “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley.”
It’s a look at life in an English manor house from the perspective of the kitchen, through which both the servants and gentry pass quite frequently, and with alacrity. Bradly Byrne’s beautiful set, which encompasses it all, is a feast to the eyes, and a worthy backdrop to the talented cast.
The onstage talent could be transferred to a Netflix or Amazon Prime special – it’s that good. One becomes caught up in the story and emotional entanglements, and it almost feels like one has a seat in the kitchen, but we are unfortunately out of reach of the housekeeper’s famous cookies, or “biscuits” as the British call them.
Directed by Sarah Hawkins Rusk, the cast is delightful and strong, and includes Danielle Wright as Lydia Wickham, Kryssy Becker as Elizabeth Darcy, Joseph Sfair as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jan Cartwright as Mrs. Reynolds, Maggie Alger as Cassie, Craig Ester as Brian and Jonathan Davidson as George Wickham.
Tickets for the show, which runs through Dec. 16, are available at openbooktc.com.
TCHAIKOVSKY TRANSFORMED: ‘THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER’ PLAYS AT DETROIT OPERA HOUSE
Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet, “The Nutcracker,” is boldly reimagined in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” performed at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit.
The show, now in its seventh season, features hip hop pioneer Kurtis “The Breaks” Blow, who performs the role of the emcee.
The show combines artistry and athleticism with a modern, magical touch and a stage full of talent, and instead of being infused with a European flavor from a bygone era, the backdrop is modern day New York City.
P.S. CENTER STAGE PLAYERS TO HOLD AUDITIONS FOR ‘PETER PAN’
Auditions for the 1954 version of the musical “Peter Pan” will be held by P.S. Center Stage Players, for children and adults, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at First United Methodist Church, 72 Oak St., Wyandotte.
Those auditioning should come prepared to sing a short song of their own choosing, read from the script and learn a short group dance routine.
The show, directed by Penny Lynn Siler, will be performed Feb. 17 to 25 at Jo Brighton auditorium, 4460 18th St., Wyandotte. Those cast will be assessed a fee. Call 734-771-0590 for more information.