F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has to be one of the most adapted novels in literary history, from movies to radio plays, immersive experiences and even operatic and ballet versions, the tragic love story always seems to hit the right note with audiences. Despite that, musical adaptations tend to be few and far between, so this semi-staged concert version of Gatsby A Musical makes for a welcome alternative.
Adapted by director Linnie Reedman, with music and lyrics by Joe Evans, Gatsby A Musical picks up the story where Fitzgerald’s novel left off, before taking the audience back, in a series of flashbacks, to the heady post-pandemic jazz era. While these jaunts back in time cover the key plot points, and almost as importantly, the extravagant parties at Gatsby’s mansion, Reedman takes the opportunity to explore each of the main characters a little more deeply, and we find ourselves seeing Gatsby et al in a new light.
Adaptations of Gatsby tend to be epic affairs, taking full advantage of the glitz and glamour of the roaring twenties. For this production, presenting Gatsby on a grand scale was always going to be challenging. Government restrictions at the time of filming mean that this filmed concert version was the only real option, but the impressive backdrop of Cadogan Hall does add some gravitas, and anyone who has attended a musical concert at the venue will easily be able to imagine how the swinging score would sound in-person.
To be set in the jazz-era, Joe Evans’ score finds the right balance of Jazz, blues, swing, dance band, and ragtime to create an enjoyable piece of musical theatre. The lack of a set or props is negated by beautiful costume design by Belle Mundi, which leaves us in no doubt where and when we find these characters. There are some minor film and sound issues, but on the whole, it’s a valiant effort from a promising theatre company.
Part of the attraction for audiences will be the line-up of West End performers gracing Gatsby’s mansion and the Luna Park Speakeasy. Jodie Steel gives a terrific performance as Daisy Buchannan, while Ross William Wild defines the very essence of Gatsby. Emma Williams is gloriously brash as Myrtle, and Blake Patrick Anderson makes for a reassuring narrator in Nick Carraway. Vocals are superb throughout, with Liam Doyle as Tom Buchannan really demonstrating his ability.
Gatsby A Musical isn’t just another adaptation of the classic novel, it’s a whole new way of viewing the characters we all think we know so well. Ross William Wild makes for such a compelling Gatsby that audiences will be left craving a fully staged production of this musical, but in the meantime, this concert version is a lavish treat to be enjoyed at home.
Gatsby A Musical streams Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th March 2021, tickets are on sale here.