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“Way Down To Hadestown”: These 4 Shows Looked To Greek Mythology For Inspiration

Great Hera!
broadway greek mythology

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Patrick Page, Amber Gray, Andre De Shields, Rachel Clavkin during Broadway Opening Night Performance Curtain Call for 'Hadestown' at the Walter Kerr Theatre on April 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)

Hadestown, a Broadway musical based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, opened to stellar reviews on Wednesday night.

Set in the Depression era, the show was praised for its update on a tale that’s thousands of years old. However, you don’t have to be Athena to realize that the immortal stories of Greek mythology have inspired some of theatre’s most enduring productions.

Here are some of our favorites.

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady was based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, who derived the title from the myth of Pygmalion, which describes a sculptor who sculpts his idea of the perfect woman out of ivory—much like Henry Higgins “sculpts” Eliza. The statue is brought to life by the goddess Aphrodite and the two live happily ever after. This is also where we remind you that the word “misogyny” comes from the Greek word misogúnēs.

The Frogs

One of Sondheim’s first musicals, The Frogs is based on an ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes. It tells the story of the god Dionysus, who goes to the underworld to retrieve his favorite playwright. Sounds relatable.

Lysistrata Jones

Sisters are doing it for themselves in Lysistrata Jones. Much like its ancient Greek counterpart Lysistrata—in which Athenian women withhold sex from their husbands until they agree to end the Peloponnesian war—the musical features cheerleaders who stop having sex with their basketball player boyfriends until the players end their pathetic losing streak.

By Jupiter

This 1942 musical features famous mythical characters like Queen Hippolyta and Hercules. Mischief ensues when Greek soldiers meet the Amazonian women—all with Homer (of The Illiad fame) tagging along to document it.

Who did we forget? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Evan Brechtel

    Evan is a writer and editor based in New York. In addition to his work with Second Nexus, he freelan... keep reading