The War to End All Wars was over. The dough-boys had been to France and brought it home with them. The States went dry but the privileged’s homecoming party never stopped. The market, like women’s hem-lines was up; the impending Great Depression was too far over the horizon to even spark a concern.
It was the age of forgotten innocence – the age of hedonist pleasures for the wealthy – the Jazz Age – and F. Scott Fitzgerald captured it all in his great American novel, “The Great Gatsby.”
Tacoma Little Theatre brings Simon Levy’s adaptation of this intriguing, romantic, coming-of-age story about the Lost Generation to the stage.
Director Dale Westgaard brings “Gatsby” to life.
Westgaard works on a set designed by Technical Director Blake R. York. York has given the proscenium arch an art deco look in keeping with the era but uses a seemingly blank stage for the cast to tread through the infinite number of scenes within the play.
York uses rear projection images to suggest various locals; the stage has minimal set dressing which is efficiently brought on and off by ensemble cast members in character. This ingenious design allows Westgaard to move the action along at a good pace through the numerous location changes without over tiring the audience with actual set movement.
Elizabeth Richmond Posluns choreographs the dance scenes; Michele Graves does the costumes; Jeffery Weaver supplies the wigs and props; Pavlina Morris does lighting; Ben Levine sound, including a gentle rain flurry. Katherine Mahoney is Stage Manager.
Westgaard has amassed a good cast to replay the tale – some are stronger than others and, luckily, the strength lies where it needs to be.
The Ensemble cast includes Ron Bauer as Mr. McKee, Kathleen Martin as Mrs. McKee, George McClure as Policemen, Kaylie Rainer as Mrs. Michaelis; and Nastassia Reynolds and James Fesalbon as Solo Dancers. Each actor has a specific job; all do their tasks well.
Kerry Bringman does a stand-out job as Meyer Wolfsheim, the man of devious reputation who appears to back and guide Gatsby.
Veronica Tuttell is charming as Daisy Buchanan, the flapper who married a bit too soon to escape boredom. Tuttell shows all the signs of the character; she has the look of the Roaring ’20s and exudes the upper crust attitude which goes with one born to the privileged class.
Jacob Tice is Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband, who is born to wealth and flaunts it to all. Tice is very good with the character, as he flippantly casts off his role of dutiful husband to easily spring toward his “girl” on the side.
Kelly Mackay plays Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin (second, once removed and her favorite) with the innocence of the yet-to-be-lost small town boy. His nervous smile is constant. He shows the audience his misplaced naked self, even while succumbing to the life-style around him.
Rodman Bolek is Jay Gatsby. The self-made class-crasher who uses whatever means necessary to regain his beloved Daisy. Bolek plays Gatsby as an overconfident wastrel who, in reality, is shy with only one goal in his life. Bolek brings forth Gatsby’s character with knowledge and aplomb.
Ana Bury gives an admirable performance as Jordan Baker, Daisy’s friend and confident who shares herself with whomever seems available at the time. Bury is enchantingly wily in the role which the actor builds from vamp to lover to close with return to wanton vamp.
Mason Quinn is George Wilson, the owner/operator of the local garage. Quinn acts a quiet citizen who wants the best for his wife and himself. He is a caring husband who fears for his marriage because the character believes his wife is involved with Tom Buchanan but the actor doesn’t want to believe it. Quinn has a worthy Act II emotional scene with Buchanan which juxtaposes an excellent argument scene with his wife.
Stacia Russell is Myrtle Wilson, the straying wife looking to better her lot. Russell is excellent in the role of the hedonistic loose woman bored with her husband. The actor moves the audience from disapproval to empathy to understanding. Russell’s bawdy dancing, her love making and fighting are perfect; a very nice job.
“The Great Gatsby” continues at Tacoma Little Theatre at 210 North I Street through February 8 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays.
Attention Super Bowl Fans: Due to many request, the Sunday February 1 matinee will begin at 12 noon to allow the audiences to view the other drama playing that day! Also, in honor to the Seahawks, reservations for that date will sell for only $12.
“The Great Gatsby” is touted to mark the beginning of the modern novel. The tale translated to the stage loses nothing and gains much. The final 10 minutes of the production gives the audience one of theatre’s most thrilling climatic scenes. Don’t miss it – you’ll remember it always.