Patrick Page Interview: ‘Hadestown’
“What we need is a reminder that our voices matter, and that there’s hope,” declares actor Patrick Page. The veteran of the stage believes his current Broadway show “Hadestown” provides that sense of hope. Page discussed his work in Anaïs Mitchell’s exciting folk musical with Gold Derby. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“The thing that inspired me the most,” admits Page, “is the music itself.” Mitchell has been working on the music of “Hadestown” for years, releasing an initial concept album back in 2010. Page downloaded that album and was immediately won over by the score, describing her lyrics as “little poems.” The story takes the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and drops it into a Jazz Age setting. Page commands the stage as Hades, god of the underworld. In this show that nether region is the industrial realm known as Hadestown.
The show has had a long creative journey before arriving on Broadway. It initially premiered Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Page says it originally felt more like a “song cycle, or a concert” with handheld mics and an immersive setting. Soon the production moved to Alberta, Canada and then the Royal National Theatre in London. In both cases being re-staged for a proscenium. Page jokes of the development process, “I learned that I’m a lot easier to please” than Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin. “Each time I always think ‘oh its perfect, leave it alone,’ and they always know how to make it better.”
One of Hades’ signature numbers which has been there from the beginning is “Why we Build the Wall.” I note that many critics have read into the meaning of the song and associated it with the proposed wall on the Mexican border. But Page thinks, “When they make it a song only about Donald Trump and a wall on our southern border, they’ve taken meaning away from it.” Indeed the tune originated on Mitchell’s concept album and pre-dates the wall in the news. The actor believes that the concept of a wall is a metaphor “as old as time” and “makes sense to people at a visceral level.”
More interesting to Page is “the circular logic of the song.” The central question and answer of the number is “Why do we build the wall?/We build the wall to keep us free.” That call and response loops back on itself, and reminds Page of our own military-industrial complex. He says the song was “one of the first things that hooked me into the show. I think it’s one of the great folk songs of all time.”
Ultimately, Page says that for a villainous character, it’s important as an actor “not to judge them” and “see the world from their point of view.” The experienced thespian says it was easy to do just that, because Hades is a husband first and foremost. He is “afraid his wife is falling out of love with him.” As such, Page holds his on-stage wife Amber Gray (Persephone) in high regard. “It’s a relationship of absolute trust and comfort” he says of working with the actress. The drive Page imbues Hades with in order to retain his love results in a commanding performance.