The University of Rhode Island theater helped bring the Roaring ‘20s back to life through their latest production of “The Great Gatsby.”
Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, URI hosted musical numbers from the Jazz age and dances such as the Charleston, Foxtrot, and Tango. While the play and the novel have some differences, the play still retains the core elements of the book that drove the action of this story.
“The Great Gatsby” explores the tale of an enigmatic self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby (Steven Carvalho) who pursues Daisy Buchanan (Cassidy McCartan) by throwing lavish parties at his opulent mansion. “The Great Gatsby” also highlights class differences and the carelessness of the untouchable upper class as they get away with murder.
The play begins with the performance of a Charleston routine by the cast members, and towards the end of the routine, we are introduced to Nick Carraway (Ben Church). Nick delivers his famous opening monolog as travels to the Buchanan’s residence. What follows is an illustration of the frivolous lives of the rich.
Tom Buchanan (Christopher X. Morris) embodies rich arrogance and is the unfaithful husband of Daisy. Described as “the Golden Girl,” Daisy is care-free and has the tendency to see life in a rose-colored view. Jordan Baker (Rebecca Magnotta) is a friend of Tom and Daisy, and she is also a professional golfer. Nick is drawn to her because of her dislike for careless people. However, her dishonesty drives Nick away from her.
The play then shows a stark contrast with the lives of the rich by introducing George and Myrtle Wilson who live in a grim environment. George Wilson (Erik Schlicht) is a mechanic and represents the poor working class. Myrtle Wilson (Celine Montaudy) is Tom’s mistress and a major factor to the tragic end of the play.
The actors brilliantly excel in their roles and are the perfect embodiment of the characters in the story. The delivery of their dialogue flawlessly captures the essence of each character. Singers Kara Langelier, Brooks Shatrow, and Alijah Ileana Dickenson help set the tone for the play with incredible musical numbers.
The costumes were accurate in depicting the fashions of the era. These included flapper dresses and dapper suits for the upper class and overalls and plain dresses for the working class.
The set was designed elaborately with art deco styled furnishings were displayed throughout the play. The use of bright lights intensified the opulence of the lavish parties thrown at Gatsby’s mansion, and in the background, images relevant to the scenes such as the Buchanan Mansion or New York City buildings were projected.
URI theater’s production of “The Great Gatsby” is an entertaining take on the classic American novel. Details from the set design and costumes, to the addition of dance routines and musical numbers contributed to the brilliant execution of the play.
“The Great Gatsby” can be seen at Robert E. Will Theatre from April 27 through April 29 at 7:30 p.m., and on April 30 at 3:00 p.m.