WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE?: Cadogan Hall, central London
RUNTIME: 135 minutes (including a 10-minute interval)
The Great Gatsby is a 1925 book by F.Scott Fitzgerald about the insubstantiality of the American Dream that has been made into a film four times starring most recently both Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio in the titular role.
- Read on for reasons including how this musical reimagines the story through the eyes of the object of Gatsby’s affection
The ‘roaring Twenties’ in the US were characterised by jazz, prohibition of alcohol sales, and the disparity in wealth between near neighbours, in this case New York. Gatsby is self-made, wants to resume his relationship with his sweetheart Daisy Buchanan but she is now married to husband Tom who is having an affair with a garage owner in a less affluent area outside the city.
Gatsby – a musical frames the book’s plot through Daisy’s eyes as she returns to Gatsby’s Long Island mansion seven years after the dramatic 1922 summer featured in the book to look for him and discover what happened to him.
Part of the reason that The Great Gatsby has worked well on film and has the potential to be a successful musical is that the parties Gatsby throws are colourful affairs starring society’s most affluent characters dressed fashionably and enjoying themselves to a hedonistic jazz soundtrack still popular today.
Cadogan Hall is an atmospheric venue for this socially-distanced version of a new musical staged in its in concert version here which benefits from several memorable songs including The Gatsby which sounds like the sort of upbeat, energetic and fun song that one might hear at such a social gathering.
Elsewhere Emma Williams (Mrs Henderson Presents, Noel Coward Theatre) excels as Myrtle Wilson who is Tom Buchanan’s mistress, is trapped in a destructive marriage and whose song Broken Wings, Broken Dreams is the show’s emotional highlight.
Although seen through Daisy Buchanan’s eyes, Jodie Steele (Heathers, the Other Palace) has a tougher job to do to engage the audience’s sympathy as a woman caught between two men yet lacking the conviction to resolve her situation.
We felt the female focus perhaps deserved to be accentuated more but it did mean that the emphasis was far less on rising star Blake Patrick Anderson (Rent, Hope Mill Theatre) as the book’s narrator Nick Carraway and Ross William Wild’s social-climbing Gatsby.
There is certainly a hit musical to be mined from the source material that is this beloved book but we’re not sure that writer-director Linnie Reedman is quite there yet but with songs as exuberant and fun as Abso-lute-ly, Posi-lute-ly she’s certainly within touching distance.
We’ve read that Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine is also interested in adapting a similar musical version of The Great Gatsby and can confirm her interest in the theatre having seen her in the audience at the National Theatre 2 years ago.
- Picture via Facebook courtesy Gatsby – a musical Tickets
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