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Name is Hades, Lord of the Dead

Broadway in Richmond’s “Hadestown” to take audiences to hell and back.


When “Hadestown” debuted on Broadway in 2019, audiences couldn’t help but draw parallels between the musical and the administration of then-President Donald Trump.

The show, which reworks the ancient myth of Orpheus venturing into the underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice, prominently features Hades, the god of the dead. In this telling, Hades is a wealthy, cruel factory owner who’s building a wall to keep poor people out.

In an Associated Press article titled, “No, That ‘Hadestown’ Song Isn’t Really About Donald Trump,” director Rachel Chavkin said that every night during the song “Why We Build the Wall,” “you can just feel the shiver go through the audience” because of its relation to Trump’s candidacy and presidency, even though the song was written way back in 2006.

“People say it to me all the time: ‘It seems like your character is very Trump-y,’” says Matthew Patrick Quinn, who plays Hades in the touring Broadway production coming to town next week. “The song itself has so many parallels to that situation. He founded his campaign on building a wall and trying to keep out immigrants. … You can’t help but draw the connection, but I think it fascinates people when they find out that there absolutely is no connection.”

Matthew Patrick Quinn and Hannah Whitley, Dominique Kempf, Nyla Watson, Belén Moyano in the "Hadestown" North American tour from 2022. - T. CHARLES ERICKSON
  • T. Charles Erickson
  • Matthew Patrick Quinn and Hannah Whitley, Dominique Kempf, Nyla Watson, Belén Moyano in the "Hadestown" North American tour from 2022.

In “Hadestown,” Eurydice and Orpheus both live in a world of poverty, cold and famine. Despite hearing that the workers of Hadestown, Hades’ underground factory, endure never-ending labor, Eurydice is intrigued by the safety and security it promises. Cold and hungry, she accepts Hades’ invitation to Hadestown. Orpheus, a singer-songwriter, sets off on a journey to rescue her. The show’s Broadway staging received 14 Tony nominations, winning eight, including for best musical and best original score.

Quinn says not to worry if you don’t happen to be mythological scholar: “You can come in basically knowing nothing about Greek mythology. The show itself is written in a way that audiences can completely follow along and still enjoy it,” he says.

Noting that Hades was given the underworld when his brothers Zeus and Poseidon were given the heavens and the oceans, Quinn says that his character’s motivations make sense, including his infatuation with Eurydice. Part of the show deals with the fact that Hades’ wife Persephone lives above ground half of the year, paying him annual conjugal visits.

“Hades is one of those characters where, sure, you can judge him on the decisions he makes, but you also kind of feel for him,” Quinn explains. “There’s a lyric in the show that says ‘Mr. Hades is a mean old boss/With a silver whistle and a golden scale.’ He’s the kind of boss nobody wants to have. But I believe Hades is a product of circumstance and is somewhat misunderstood.”

Quinn extols the show’s score by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, noting that it differs from most Broadway musicals in its embrace of folk, jazz, rock and gospel stylings.

“The music is not something that you’re used to hearing on a Broadway stage,” he says. “The fact that it’s birthed out of a place of folk sensibility, seeing that translated on stage, it’s really fascinating.”

Also unique to “Hadestown” is the fact that the show’s live band is featured onstage instead of the orchestra pit.

“Our production makes them integral to the storyline,” Quinn says. “They’re onstage with us because one of the major themes of our show is the power of song. Being able to celebrate the orchestra right there on stage is very powerful.”

Quinn, whose previous musical roles include playing Captain Hook in “Finding Neverland,” Scar in “The Lion King” and Jafar in “Aladdin,” seems to have a knack for playing the heavy.

“It’s all an act, because in real life I’m just weak,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t know what that is. I’m tall and I have a deep voice, and I know how to carry myself in a way that represents power.”

Broadway in Richmond’s “Hadestown” runs May 31-June 4 at the Altria Theatre, 6 N. Laurel St. For more information, visit or call (804) 592-3368.