A couple of shows setting Broadway ablaze: Burn This and Hadestown

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First the play, Burn This.

A couple of shows setting Broadway  ablaze: Burn This and Hadestown
Photo: Adam Driver and Kerri Russell in Burn/This
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

What is it about? It’s about a connection between two people who are drawn together, no matter how unlikely, unpredictable or even bizarre.

This is a play about what hits you at your core and the revival of this Lanford Wilson play makes that very clear.

Wilson crafted a great theatrical piece: the dialogue is wickedly funny, witty and timeless.

II laughed out loud several times, and although the play runs rather long, I felt engaged the whole way through.

It doesn’t hurt when you have veterans like the always incredible Brandon Uranowitz and Broadway veteran David Furr in the cast.

The stars in Burn This are Kerri Russell and Adam Driver. Kerri does a fine job as Anna, the dancer, in mourning for her roommate, friend and dance partner Robbie, who was killed in a tragic accident.

Adam Driver is quite funny as he is stunningly, hilariously intense playing Jimmy (known as Pale), Robbie’s odd, angry, and outrageous older brother. The spoken tango that the characters dance, based on what drives them in life, is what keeps this play fresh. The play is well directed by Michael Mayer, with a finely created set by Derek McLane. Burn This takes place in a loft in a converted cast-iron building in lower Manhattan in 1987, with music played before the curtain and during the show, indicating the 1980’s time period.

I really liked this play about love, loss, relationships, and the undefinable.
Burn This is one to add to your “to-see list” on Broadway. It is in a limited run so catch it before it closes on July 14. Get the details.

Hadestown, a Musical

Now, this segues handily into the next piece. While the word “burn” is in the title of this play, indicating fire, Hadestown, is a musical that is set down below in, shall we say, a rather fiery  environment. This piece is also about  love, loss, relationships and the undefinable.

An unusual new musical with book, music and lyrics by Anais Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown is in keeping with what lies at the heart of Burn This. In Hadestown, the story, based on a classic Greek myth, also centers around a most unlikely relationship-that between the spirited and life loving Persephone, and Hades, her husband, god of the underworld. Persephone yearns to flourish in the world above, filled with flowers and beauty, but, alas, she is in love with the dark Hades, who summons her 6 months during the year, to live in a dank and soulless environment.

But the main story line for this piece features the love between Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) and Orpheus (Reeve Carney). The sweet dreamer Orpheus, busy playing his music, falls in love with young, hardened Eurydice at first sight.

A couple of shows setting Broadway  ablaze: Burn This and Hadestown
Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada Photo credit: Matthew Murphy  

It is another unlikely pairing, but once again, as witnessed by this age old story,  the heart wants what it wants, without reason or logic.

Hadestown is completely inventive in its sorry telling and choreography. The musicians (who are on stage) are dressed in cool 1940’s style garb, the amazing set is designed by Rachel Hauck, the well thought out choreography is by David Neumann, and the way the story unfolds is just breathtaking. I was a bit skeptical at first, quite honestly, but I found myself loving the show more and more. The music is memorable and infectious.

Patrick Page is perfectly cast as Hades, with his incredible signature instrument that is his voice. However, because he has the ability to sing so low, it is often hard to understand his words. His range is abbreviated when bottoming out in the depth of his lower register. But then again, we are bottomed out when we are in Hadestown aren’t we?

A couple of shows setting Broadway  ablaze: Burn This and Hadestown
Patrick Page and Amber Gray Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Amber Gray, who plays Persephone, the wife of Hades, is just stunning.
Broadway icon Andre De Shields is Hermes, and the narrator of the story, ably taking us along this mythical journey. There are three terrific actresses (Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad) who play the Fates and are constantly woven in and out of the tale, along with the fine performers who are the members of the Workers Chorus, who keep Hades’ underworld running.

A couple of shows setting Broadway  ablaze: Burn This and Hadestown
Andre DeShields Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Hadestown is ingenious in its fabulous re-telling of a Greek myth, complete with truly wonderful performances. And the music, which was first brought to light in a studio album by singer, songwriter, musician Anais Mitchell, will stay with you. Although there is a tragic ending to this tale, Hadestown leaves us filled with hope. Get the details.


  • Valerie Smaldone

    Five-time Billboard Award-winning media personality Valerie Smaldone is a theatre, food, lifestyle and entertainment enthusiast. She is a celebrity interviewer, accomplished voice-over artist and actress. Recent appearances on episodic tv include Law and Order, Criminal Intent, The Other Two (on HBO Max), Tommy, Manifest and Blue Bloods. She is an audiobook narrator and producer. A live event emcee, moderator, and "Voice of God" at events and award ceremonies, Valerie has just directed and produced her first film featuring Gloria Gaynor and is producing a docu-series starring Erik Estrada. Visit her website at www.valeriesmaldone.com

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