Jeremy Jordan, Eva Noblezada and cast in The Great Gatsby
Photograph: Courtesy Evan ZimmermanThe Great Gatsby
  • Theater, Musicals
  • Broadway Theatre, Midtown West
  • Open run
  • Recommended


The Great Gatsby

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

Broadway review by Adam Feldman 

The Great Gatsby looks great. If you want production values, this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, directed by Marc Bruni, delivers more than any other new musical of the overstuffed Broadway season. It’s the Roaring Twenties, after all—now as well as then—so why not be loud? Let other shows make do with skeletal, functional multipurpose scenic design; these sets and projections, by Paul Tate de Poo III, offer grandly scaled Art Deco instead. Linda Cho’s costumes are Vegas shiny for the party people and elegant for the monied types. The production wears excess on its sleeveless flapper dresses.

The Great Gatsby | Photograph: Courtesy Evan Zimmerman

The Great Gatsby often sounds great, too. Its lead actors, Jeremy Jordan as the self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and Eva Noblezada as his dream girl, Daisy Buchanan, have deluxe voices, and the score gives them plenty to sing. Jason Howland’s music dips into period pastiche for the group numbers—there are lots of them, set to caffeinated choreography by Dominique Kelley—but favors Miss Saigon levels of sweeping pop emotionality for the main lovers; the old-fashioned craft of Nathan Tysen’s lyrics sits comfortably, sometimes even cleverly, on the melodies. 

In other regards, this Gatsby is less great. Book writer Kait Kerrigan has taken some admirably ambitious swings in adapting material that has defeated many would-be adapters before her. She cuts much of Gatsby’s backstory, and makes Daisy more sympathetic; she also expands the relationship between the book’s narrator Nick (the likable Noah J. Ricketts) and sneaky lady golfer Jordan (Samantha Pauly, in Hepburn pants and a Streisand bob) into something like a comic-relief B couple, à la Show Boat or Oklahoma. The unlucky Myrtle (a vivid Sarah Chase)—the side piece of Daisy’s rich and brutish husband, Tom (John Zdrojeski, who finds just the right level of awfulness)—has been given a richer interior life, including a “Moments in the Woods”–style decision song before she hits the road. The sinister gangster Meyer Wolfsheim (Eric Anderson) is now a jazzy scoundrel with the tinted glasses and slicked-back hair of a rock-band manager in the 1980s. 

The Great Gatsby | Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

These choices make a certain amount of musical-theater sense, and Bruni builds them to an effective finale. But what they miss is the sense of mystery, and of larger social context, that make the novel special. Fitzgerald’s book doles out information about its characters in bits and pieces, like glimpses through a peephole. Here it’s all on the surface, and a bit generic: high-flown sincerity from a Gatsby short on the requisite charm (Fitzgerald says Gatsby’s formality of speech “just missed being absurd,” but Jordan’s version too often doesn’t miss) and a Daisy without the she-loves-me-she-love-me-not ambiguity that has made readers pick her—or pick on her—for nearly 100 years. Remade as true love torn apart by circumstance, the central romance loses the edge that makes it so compelling: the allure, tragic for Gatsby, of an unattainable class ascent. But will any of that matter where sales are concerned? Maybe not. To audiences hungry for glitz this year, The Good Gatsby may be good enough. 

The Great Gatsby. Broadway Theater (Broadway). Music by Jason Howland. Lyrics by Nathan Tysen. Book by Kait Kerrigan. Directed by Marc Bruni. With Jeremy Jordan, Eva Noblezada, Noah J. Ricketts, Samantha Pauly, Sara Chase, John Zdrojeski, Paul Whitty, Eric Anderson. Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission. 

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The Great Gatsby | Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy


Event website:
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway
New York
Cross street:
at 53rd St
Subway: C, E to 50th St; N, Q, R to 49th St; 1 to 50th St

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