Hadestown: how Anaïs Mitchell’s lo-fi hit became a sensational musical

It started as a show that toured Vermont in a school bus. Now it’s hitting the National Theatre and is bound for Broadway. We track the long, winding road of Hadestown

Hadestown, the Orphic musical by folk singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell has just begun performances at the National Theatre after about six weeks of rehearsal. But really it’s more like 60. Or 600. Hadestown has been gestating in one form or another for over a decade. To illustrate the point, one of its songs is called How Long? and another is Wait for Me.

The show began, more or less, in 2006 when Mitchell wrote a myth-based song cycle with folk, jazz and indie rhythms and toured it around Vermont in a school bus with an anarchist puppeteer on board. Those lo-fi performances became an album featuring Ani DiFranco and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and was a small sensation.

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