Despite being written almost a century ago, The Great Gatsby feels oddly relevant at the current time. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, which has been made into a film, not to mention an immersive show, is set in the roaring twenties, a time when the world was recovering from a deadly pandemic. And now, almost a hundred years later, just as there’s a sense of optimism with the Coronavirus vaccine rollout and relaxing of lockdown measures, a socially distanced, semi-staged concert version of Gatsby A Musical is available to stream online.
Written and directed by Linnie Reedman and with music and lyrics from Joe Evans, Gatsby A Musical was filmed at London’s Cadogan Hall and features a talented cast including West End stars Jodie Steele, Ross William Wild and Emma Williams. The musical is set in 1929, seven years after Fitzgerald’s story, and centres around Daisy Buchanan (Steele) who returns to the mansion owned by Gatsby (Wild) in search of him, unaware of his tragic fate. The action flashes back to a time of lavish parties, when she was struggling in her marriage to Tom (Liam Doyle) as he embarked on an affair with Myrtle (Williams) while Daisy herself was growing closer to Gatsby.
As a semi-staged performance Gatsby A Musical still manages to re-create the atmosphere of the time period, largely thanks to Belle Mundi’s lavish costumes and the sumptuous surroundings of Cadogan Hall. While a lack of audience is often a sad sight when watching online theatre, in this instance it really feels more effective, as though viewers are getting a glimpse into Gatsby’s abandoned mansion.
Evans’ score, arranged and orchestrated by Henry Brennan, includes a great mix of musical styles, including ballads, jazz, swing and ragtime. There are some brilliant songs brought to life by the talented band, such as ‘Starlight and Wine’, ‘Seize The Day’, and the beautiful ‘Broken Wings, Broken Dreams’.
There is no weak link in the cast, with every actor giving a great performance. Steele does an incredible job of portraying Daisy’s vulnerability, and takes viewers on an emotional journey as she discovers the truth about Gatsby’s fate. Her vocals match her acting talent, and her rendition of ‘For Me’ is incredibly moving.
Williams is equally impressive as Myrtle, and her duet of ‘Broken Wings, Broken Dreams’ with Steele is stunning. Wild is wonderfully charismatic as Gatsby and his performance of ‘The Moon That Never Rose’ is one of the highlights of the whole show. Blake Patrick Anderson gives a strong performance as narrator Nick Carraway as does Doyle as Tom Buchanan and Joe Frost as the bullying George.
With a concert version like this it’s difficult to differentiate between the two time periods, but this is achieved due to edits and on-screen captions. For the most part this works, but there are times when these edits feel too sudden and jarring, interrupting the flow of the show. But despite this and one or two sound issues, this is an impressive show that’s sure to entertain both those familiar with the original story and newcomers to Gatsby’s world.
Featuring great songs, a strong cast and some stunning vocals, Gatsby A Musical is a delightful and emotional show which puts a new spin on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters and is fully deserved of a staged performance once theatres reopen.
Gatsby A Musical streams until Sunday 14th March 2021.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Photo credit: WebGig Live
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