BINGO – Flora
Anais Mitchell has been very, very busy over the last ten years. Her journey began with writing a folk opera album based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice while touring with Bon Iver. The culmination of this journey is Broadway production Hadestown that garnered 14 Tony Award nominations and 8 wins including one for Mitchel for Best Original Score. Getting to that point was not easy or quick. In Working On A Song Mitchell walks through the various stages of each song in the Broadway musical from workshops to off-Broadway performances, from Vermont to London.
For each song, Mitchell includes lyrics that she wrote and loved but ultimately had to cut or modify due to requests from Team Dramaturgy, as Mitchell lovingly calls them, the group of people working on the stage production of Hadestown whose focus was on story and character development. This is a constant struggle throughout the book: the poetic and abstract wishes of Team Music versus the concrete necessities of Team Dramaturgy. Ultimately, the changes all serve to improve the overall efficacy of the production on all fronts which Mitchell grudgingly yet graciously admits.
I cannot recommend the audiobook version of this book highly enough. Mitchell has a beautiful singing voice (she originally sang the part of Eurydice on the album version of Hadestown) and she half-sings all the lyrics throughout the audiobook. Also cut through the audiobook when a half-sung reproduction just wouldn’t cut it, Mitchell includes clips from the Broadway recording featuring the original cast.
Even if you have never seen Hadestown (I haven’t due to living in Texas and the recent global shut down), Working On A Song is a beautiful foray into the creative process. After I finished listening to the audiobook, I re-listened to the album recording of the Broadway production; I greatly enjoyed the new insight into each song that Mitchell provides on Working On A Song.