Tag Archives: Gloria Onitiri



Lyric Theatre

HADESTOWN at the Lyric Theatre


“Hadestown is the West End musical you’ll want to see this year. And next year. And the year after.”

Hadestown is that remarkable thing: an adaptation of a tragic Greek myth that isn’t an opera or a film, or a series of elegiac poems, but is instead a bluesy, jazzy, rock musical with an uplifting ending. Yes, you read that right. Anaïs Mitchell, who wrote the music, lyrics and book, promoted early versions of Hadestown from rural beginnings in Vermont for years before she found the right team to help bring her vision to Broadway. And after taking Broadway by storm in 2019, it’s now the turn of London’s West End. This production of Hadestown has found just the right venue. The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue is big enough to enhance the energy of its multi-talented cast, yet intimate enough to create the mood of a jazz club in New Orleans.

Hadestown is not the first musical to adapt the ancient Greek story of singer songwriter Orpheus and his wife Eurydice, but this is a fresh take on an old story. In the original, Orpheus and Eurydice are newly weds, blissfully happy until Eurydice dies from a snakebite. Unable to accept her loss, Orpheus follows her into Hades’ realm, with only his musical talent for protection. But Hadestown is not just about Orpheus and Eurydice. It’s also the story of another pair of doomed lovers, Persephone and Hades, the King and Queen of the Underworld. Plus their part in the environmental destruction that’s taking place on the planet above them. There’s a lot of material to unpack, but Mitchell’s lyrics, music and book are satisfyingly complex enough to hold it all.



Mitchell and her team have made some changes to the original Greek myth. Orpheus is still the dreamy artist, too busy composing songs to notice the danger his wife is in. Eurydice is an orphan in this version, hungry and cold. When the King of the Underworld tempts her with a one way ticket on his train to hell, she gives up Orpheus for food and shelter in return. Her story is mirrored in that of Hades’ unhappy wife Persephone. Hades, the brutal capitalist, is too busy exploiting his workers to pay much attention to her. The irony is that Hades thinks he can chain Persephone to him with his profits in gold, silver and jewelry. In the Hadestown version of the myth, there are four unhappy people with much to give. Yet they keep making the choices that bring them all to hell. There’s a lesson there for all of us. Fortunately it takes the form of memorable songs, brilliant lyrics, plus a book that is unusually complex and thought provoking. With so much packed into Hadestown, it’s easy to forgive the length of this musical. And one or two spots where the action slows, and you waken, for a moment, from the dream.

The Lyric Theatre’s production of Hadestown has put together a fantastic cast, and a band of great talent to support them. Despite the formidable leading men, Dónal Finn (Orpheus) and Zachary James (Hades), this production belongs to its leading women. Gloria Onitiri as Persephone and Grace Hodgett Young as Eurydice fill the space with their powerhouse voices, and Melanie La Barrie (Hermes) is both a voice to reckon with as well as a sympathetic narrator. Fates Bella Brown, Madeline Charlemagne and Allie Daniel turbo charge the female power on stage. The rest of the cast are equally dynamic supporters, and there’s no question the musicians are up to the task of backing these voices. Trombonist Daniel Higham and Brad Webb on drums stand out as they add just the right amount of jazz club intimacy to draw the audience in. The choreography (David Neumann), costumes (Michael Krass) and lighting (Bradley King) echo the sense of nightclub ambience. Together with the vision of Mitchell, the direction of Rachel Chavkin and Rachel Hauck’s scenic design, the team keeps this version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth paradoxically intimate, while seamlessly transferring the action between upper world to underworld, with assists from stage lifts and revolves.

Hadestown is the West End musical you’ll want to see this year. And next year. And the year after. Take your friends. This version of a classical Greek myth is something we can all relate to. Orpheus and Eurydice’s love story may have a tragic ending, but you’ll leave the theatre in an upbeat mood.

HADESTOWN at the Lyric Theatre

Reviewed on 21st February 2024

by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Marc Brenner



Previously reviewed at this venue:

GET UP STAND UP! | ★★★★ | August 2022



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page


Rehab the Musical

Rehab the Musical


Playground Theatre

REHAB THE MUSICAL at the Playground Theatre



Rehab the Musical

“the entertainment factor is what drives this show with its irresistible force”


Kid Pop (Jonny Labey) is a rock star; top of the game and at the height of fame. He has the whole world in his hands, yet he is in the firm clutches of his addiction to cocaine and alcohol. Inevitably he is up against an unsympathetic judge after the tabloids splash his drug habit on the front pages. Expecting a custodial sentence, he is instead sent into rehab for sixty days. Kid Pop cockily accepts this as a free holiday rather than the journey into the wilderness we follow him on. He is, of course, in denial. In control. The drugs are in control – but so is his pr man, Malcolm Stone (Keith Allen) whose hold over him proves to be almost as fatal as the narcotics. Labey and Allen are portraying vivid caricatures here, but the beauty of their performances lightens them into warm shades of humanity. A skill shared by the entire cast.

The story, to some degree, stems from songwriter Grant Black’s and Britpop poet Murray Lachlan’s personal battles with addiction and mental health. But far from preaching they have alchemised their experiences, along with writer Elliot Davis, into a shining gem of musical theatre. It has just the right balance of humour and pathos, shallowness and depth to appeal to the masses. Yes, the journey is a touch predictable, and the twists in the road clearly signposted, but the entertainment factor is what drives this show with its irresistible force.

Labey is enjoying every moment, barely able to contain his delight even in the darker moments. He has sixty days to recover in ‘The Glade’; the rehabilitation centre populated with his fellow addicts. Depicted as misfits they resemble everyman – perhaps a symbol of the ubiquity of addiction. The velvet voiced Phil Sealey is poignantly magnificent as over-eater Phil while Annabel Giles hilariously recounts the past shenanigans of sex-addict Jane Killy (numerous name-drops of real-life celebrities will surely have lawyers working overtime!). ‘The Glade’ even houses a tanning addict. “Yes – it’s a thing” deadpans John Barr in a glorious turn as Barry Bronze, forever showing polaroids of his orange skin from past holidays.

While Kid Pop counts his days in rehab, Malcolm Stone desperately and ruthlessly tries to keep his protégé in the headlines and his name alive (if not the client). Obsessive, corrupt and foul, Allen amazingly renders him likeable. Jodie Steele gives a star turn as sidekick Beth Boscombe, hard as steel (no pun intended) but with a heart, and voice, of gold. The show stealer, though, is Gloria Onitiri as Lucy Blake, sent into ‘The Glade’ by Stone to spy on Kid Pop. Onitiri’s presence and outstanding vocals are as dangerously intoxicating as the subject matter.

The writers have put together a wonderfully strong piece of theatre. It shuns digging deep into the nature of addiction, but it never belittles it. The abundant humour never mocks these characters – there is too much affection and care in the writing. But let us not forget that this is a musical. And the score is exceptional. From stadium rock to cheesy-pop; power ballads alternate with rousing ensemble pieces. Duets and solos tug our hearts in all directions possible. All pulsing with wonderfully clever and emotive lyrics, and swaying to the rhythms of Gary Lloyd’s sharp choreography.

“Rehab” comes with a message but is so beautifully dressed up in song and dance we soak it up without realising what we are learning. We are just swept along on the highs and lows of a truly addictive performance.



Reviewed on 7th September 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior



Top show reviews from August 2022:


Monster | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | August 2022
Cruise | ★★★★★ | Apollo Theatre | August 2022
Diva: Live From Hell | ★★★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | August 2022
Get Up Stand Up! | ★★★★ | Lyric Theatre | August 2022
Patience | ★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | August 2022
Ride | ★★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | August 2022


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