The cast of characters of this Greek tragedy brought to an alternate timeline.
And a poor boy workin' on a song
His mama was a friend of mine
And this boy was a muse's son
On the railroad line on the road to Hell
You might say the boy was touched
Cause he was touched by the gods themselves!
Give it up for Orpheus!"
The son of a Muse. A romantic poet and musician.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Mildly so, he's still a good and kind man, but his inability/preoccupation, note , to provide for his wife is what drives Eurydice to Hadestown after being promised a better life there by Hades, unlike the original where she simply dies at they're wedding after being bitten by a snake. Likewise whereas the original Orpheus was overcome by his Eurydice beauty that he looks back, its Orpheus' lack of faith in her that traps her in Hadestown for eternity.
- Break Them by Talking: Or in his case, singing.
- Determinator: He walks for miles through an unlit tunnel to sneak into Hadestown and rescue Eurydice.
- The Hero: Son of a Muse, who attempts the impossible all in the name of love, even if it doesn't work out.
- Hope Bringer: With Eurydice, the two revitalize the denizens of Hadestown with the glimmer of freedom. Unfortunately, they fail.
- However, he does technically succeed in his original goal, with his song touching the hearts of both Hades and Persephone, leading to Hades letting Persephone return early, bringing back the spring and summer, and life to the world above, longer than they lasted in a long time.
- Nice Guy: So much so, that Persephone is able to recognize his purity and kindness from the world above, as well as his many odes to her for what she provides for them, that she speaks out on his behalf to Hades.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Orpheus can leave Hadestown with Eurydice on the condition that he doesn't look back at her until they're both out of the tunnel. As in the original myth, Orpheus turns around to check whether she's really behind him just before they reach safety, and Eurydice is sent back to Hadestown.
- Spared by the Adaptation: As Dionysus is not even mentioned in the story, he avoids his fate of being torn from limb to limb by the Maenads for offending them in some way. Though one might argue that being killed would have been a happier ending for him.
- Starving Artist: He doesn't care so much about money, as he does completing his duty, to bring peace for mankind with his music.
- Tenor Boy: A sizeable chunk of his part in the show involves him singing in falsetto.
- Voice of the Legion: Justin Vernon as the concept album's Orpheus, to indicate his divine musical talent. In the Broadway show, the chorus often joins in for a similar effect.
- Walking the Earth: Implied to be his eventual fate, with Eurydice trapped in Hadestown forever and Orpheus apparently barred from the city.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He chooses to see the world as what it could be, while also appreciating it for what it is.
A practical girl. Always roaming, yet she falls herself falling for Orpheus.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Eurydice wanted to "lie down forever."
- Break the Cutie: What poverty and starvation, plus Hades, does to Eurydice.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She never talks about her past, but "All I've Ever Known" suggests that she's had to survive completely alone before meeting Orpheus.
- Determinator: She'll do whatever it takes to keep herself warm and fed, even if it means signing her life away to Hades.
- Fate Worse than Death: She will remain trapped in slavery to Hades for the rest of eternity.
- Hope Bringer: Alongside Orpheus, the two revitalize the denizens of Hadestown with the glimmer of freedom. Unfortunately, they fail.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once she realizes that Orpheus can't provide for her, she leaves for Hadestown. But once she finds out exactly what she gave away, she quickly regrets it.
The Goddess of Spring. An outdoor girl unhappily married to Hades, she hates being underground and relishes the six months she's allowed to be above girl, and gets annoyed when her husband comes to bring her home early.
- The Alcoholic: Drinks to cope with her situation in Hadestown and with her husband.
- Benevolent Boss: Unlike her husband, she refers to the workers of Hadestown as her equals and makes their lives a little less miserable by inviting them to her speakeasy and letting them consume contraband from the Upperworld.
- Broken Bird: Her marriage to Hades, and the continual viewing of people suffering as he attempts to please her, makes her incredibly jaded.
- Composite Character: Seems to be one of both the original Persephone and her Mother Demeter, the goddess of Agriculture, whose sorrow from missing her daughter is what caused the barrenness of winter, given Demeter is not mentioned.
- God Is Good: Unlike her husband, she has a love for humanity, and deplores to see the suffering of those in Hadestown, doing her part to make their lives a little less hellish when she can.
- Medium Awareness: Enough to pause mid-song to introduce the in-house band to the audience, at least.
- Physical God: The spring and summer arrive and leave with her.
- Really 700 Years Old: She is an immortal Goddess after all.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Sweet and pretty, and willing to stand up for those she believes in.
- Stepford Smiler: Outwardly, she's a party girl and the fun and friendly owner of a speakeasy in Hadestown. Inside, she laments her failing marriage.
- Technophobia: As the Goddess of Spring, she is decidedly unimpressed with the industrial pollutant-spewing "neon necropolis" that is Hadestown.I recall there was a time
We were happy, you and I
In the garden where we met
Nothing was between us yet
Back before your factories
Before your electricity
Back before you built the wall
It ain't right and it ain't natural!
My children, my children!
And the war is never won!"
The King of the Underworld, and Persephone's husband. Rich and powerful, he rules over the industrial dystopia of Hadestown, forcing his workers to build a never-ending wall.
- All Take and No Give: Oh boy! This is exactly why his marriage with Persephone is on the rocks. He wants her love, but he simply won't accept that his wife would be much happier if he abandoned his industrial and materialist pursuits in favor of more simpler Arcadian lifestyle, no matter how many times she tells him "it ain't right and it ain't natural". As an employer he reaps the rewards of his workers' labour and only gives them the smallest pittance in return, treating them more-or-less as slaves.Lover, everything I do
I do it for the love of you
If you don't even want my love
I'll give it to someone who does
Someone grateful for their fate
Someone who appreciates
The comforts of a gilded cage
- Adaptational Villainy: Lets just say that you wont find anything about Hades tricking people into slave labor in the original myth.
- Bad Samaritan: He offers Eurydice a way out of poverty and instability, but it's all a front: once he has what he wants from her, he leaves her to work herself to death for him just like all his other workers. In "Way Down Hadestown II", the Fates imply that most of his workers were 'rescued' from similar circumstances.
- Basso Profundo: Greg Brown in the concept album, and Patrick Page in the recent stage productions. Page in particular sounds almost as if his voice came up from under the ground.
- Big Bad: Unlike his Neutral counterpart in Greek Mythology, this Hades seems to take a certain pleasure in the suffering of those who are dead, and manipulates events of the story to reach its conclusion.
- Composite Character: In the show, he's compared to a rattlesnake; in the original myth Eurydice was sent to the Underworld after she died from a snakebite.
- Cool Shades: While above ground.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Every time he fails to impress Persephone with his machinery, Hades doubles down, thinking if he makes it more impressive she'll finally get it, when actually she likes him best without all the neon and pretension; what makes it worse, she's perfectly clear to Hades about this and he still refuses to change.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He's motivated by his love of Persephone and his desire to impress her; though it's deconstructed since what would impress her would be abandoning his greedy, industrial lifestyle something Hades is too selfish to do.
- Evil Is Petty: He can find workers a dime-a-dozen, so there's no reason for him to hold on to Eurydice other than pettiness: his whole "deal" with Orpheus was designed to appear benevolent but to screw them over anyway.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Is the lowest part in the show, among the principal roles.
- Guttural Growler: Due to being a bass, and much of Hades's music isn't sung so much as spoken like this.
- Jerkass Has a Point: It is rather unfair that he's left alone when Persephone is gone for six months, of course he could go with her, but he doesn't.
- Never My Fault: In the early versions of "Chant (Reprise)" he refuses to recognize his materialism and cruelty are what are driving Persephone away from him, blaming it all on how "tricky" women are. Even earlier, when she explicitly tells him to his face that she doesn't like what he's done with Hadestown and it's only making things worse, he just calls her ungrateful.
- Pet the Dog:
- Lets himself have a moment of real honest vulnerability in front of Orpheus and Eurydice when he tells them, "I don't know" before making the manipulative deal to let them leave on condition.
- It's implied he lets Persephone go back to the Earth much earlier at the end.
- Physical God: The ruler of Hadestown, all that dwell there bow to him, whether they want to or not.
- Really 700 Years Old: He is a God of the Dead after all.
- Villainous Breakdown: In "His Kiss, The Riot."
- Yandere: Despite his adultery he's rather possessive of Persephone as highlighted in "Chant (Reprise)", which also highlights how he doesn't understand what his wife values, not what love truly is — it has to be earned, not bought.If you want to hold a woman, son
Hang a chain around her throat
Made of many carat gold
Shackle her from wrist to wrist
With sterling silver bracelets
Fill her pockets full of stones
Precious ones, diamonds,
Bind her with a golden band!
- Your Cheating Heart: He is heavily, heavily implied to have cheated on Persephone with Eurydice (which isn't present in the original mythology, where Hades is practically the only god to remain faithful to his spouse.)
And a man with feathers on his feet
Who would help you to your final destination
Mr. Hermes - thats me!"
The Messenger of the Gods and the play's narrator. He raised Orpheus after he was abandoned by his mother.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Being the narrator, he talks directly to the audience (and even starts the show with a bit of call-and-response!)
- Interactive Narrator: The characters are fully aware of him, and he gives Orpheus directions to Hadestown. This is made more apparent in the Broadway show, where he's both the narrator and Orpheus's adoptive father.
- Medium Awareness: He knows that he's telling a Greek tragedy, and that it'll be told over and over.
- Mr. Exposition: Being the narrator, he has to let the audience know what's going on some how.
- Parental Substitute: He basically raised Orpheus, who'd been abandoned by his mother (a Muse, and a friend of Hermes).
- Unrelated in the Adaptation: In the myths, Orpheus's mother Calliope was Hermes's half-sister, but in the musical she's just described as a friend of his.
And there were three old women all dressed the same
And they was always singin in the back of your mind
Everybody meet the Fates!"
Three divine sisters who decided the fate of each individual.
- Adaptational Villainy: Unlike the impartial Fates of ancient Greece, these Fates are responsible for sowing doubt into the minds of others and encouraging terrible decisions.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Almost every time they talk to someone, it's to deliver one of these.
- Contralto of Danger: The Fates are certainly ominous, and the contralto Fate (currently played by Jewelle Blackman) adds a beautifully menacing quality to their harmonies.
- Greek Chorus: Often sings in the background of songs, commenting on the state of affairs of the heroes.
- The Weird Sisters: Three sisters, with the power to bend peoples fates.
- No Name Given: Their mythological names: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos are never mentioned in the show. They are only known as the Fates.
- Played by: The Ensemble
And the wall keeps out the enemy!
And we build the wall to keep us free!
Thats why we build the wall!
We build the wall to keep us free!"
The citizens of Hadestown who were lured there with the false promise of prosperous jobs and security only to find themselves in low-paying menial labor building Hades' never-ending wall.
- Armor-Piercing Question: In "Chant (Reprise)" they ask several pointed one when Orpheus's music begins to free them from Hades' control.Why do we turn away when our brother is bleeding?
Why do we build the wall and then call it freedom?
If we're free, tell me why I can't look in my brother's eye?
Why do turn away, instead of standing with him?
Why we digging our own grave for a living?
If we're free tell me why we can't even stand upright?
If we're free tell me when, we can stand with our fellow man?
- MookFace Turn: They side with Orpheus once he starts to sing to them.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: According to Eurydice and The Fates, every worker ends up with this eventually.Eurydice: Why won't anybody look at me?
The Fates: They can look
But they don't see.
You see, it's easier that way.
Your eyes will look like that someday.
- Trapped in Villainy: Once you sign a contract with Hades, you can't leave.