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August 9, 2010 | by  | in Theatre |
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The Great Gatsby

Circa Theatre’s production of The Great Gatsby certainly had a lot of expectations to live up to as one of the most popular novels of our time, and this lively production directed by David O’Donnell certainly does that.

What really made the show for me was the singing and dancing. The cast, with choreography by Sacha Copeland and musical direction by Michael Nicholas Williams prove themselves to be multitalented as actors, singers, dancers and musicians. Jessica Robinson opens the show with the beautifully performed ‘Butterfly’ that sets the tone perfectly.

The 1920s-style singing and dancing by the cast throughout captures the playful party atmosphere of the time and the frivolity of the upper classes that contrasts with the tragic story of the garage owner and his wife. Overall the cast is solid, despite a few dodgy accents. Erin Bank’s Jordyn and Guy Langford’s Nick were the standouts for me.

The set looks good and is functional. Its simplicity allows the many changes of setting to work smoothly and effectively for the most part, and, to begin with, the miming of some props and set was clever and fresh. However, as the piece continued, inconsistencies jarred somewhat, such as the characters setting up a car and then walking right though the door, or the mimed wine glasses that some cast members fully committed to and others didn’t. Although the set is simplistic, the lighting tends toward melodrama at points, and the two styles don’t really work together.

I also had a few technical concerns, in that the lighting was a bit too dark and sometimes the characters spoke too quietly, so I had to strain a bit to see and hear. It’s true that I was seated in the second to last row but, from chatting to other audience members afterward, I wasn’t the only one troubled by this, which was unfortunate because overall it was a very good, clear, entertaining and strong production.

If you love the book, you won’t be disappointed, and if you haven’t read it, it doesn’t matter; this production will take you on a journey with the strong performers providing an engaging and entertaining night at the theatre.

The Great Gatsby
wri. F. Scott Fitzgerald, adapted by Ken Duncum
dir. David O’Donnell
choreographer. Sacha Copeland
mus. dir. Michael Nicholas Williams
perf. Ray Henwood, Guy Langford, Miranda Manasiadis, Erin Banks, Jessica Robinson, Nathan Meister, Paul Harrop and Danny Mulheron

At Circa Theatre (www.circa.co.nz), 31 July – 28 August

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About the Author ()

Fiona was named "Recessionista" in the ASPA Fashion Awards 2009 for her Takaka op-shop frock and spray painted shoes. She co-edits the arts section and also likes to write about women and other stuff.

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