Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
The Great Gatsby
What really helps to make this staging of The Great Gatsby so strong is the wonderful casting of all the leads. In particular, Joe Cordaro is great as Nick, who narrates the show throughout, and Erik Kochenberger and Katharina Schmidt are superb as as the two lovers, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. This is a real heartbreaker of a story, but it also has humor and wit. Running a sleek two hours and thirty minutes, with an intermission, Ivoryton Playhouse's production makes for quite an intriguing event.
On Martin Scott Marchitto's spare yet handsome art deco set, The Great Gatsby takes hold from the very moment it begins, with Nick addressing the audience centerstage and setting the plot in motion. For those who are unfamiliar with the novel or the movie versions, the central love story is between Jay Gatsby and the married woman he loves from a distance, Daisy Buchanan. Not to give too much away, but the character of Nick serves as the catalyst to bring these two lovers together.
Joe Cordaro is commanding as Nick, both as narrator and as a character. Wearing a period-perfect suit (designed sensationally by Elizabeth A Saylor), this actor somehow inhabits the play as both a participant in the story and a detached onlooker. Playing Gatsby, the excellent Erik Kochenberger looks every inch the rich playboy, yet he brings a touch of sadness to the role, which works wonderfully. As Daisy, the lovely and endearing Katharina Schmidt is full of fun and romance, but there is also a complexity in her performance, which is full of many emotions. One never truly knows exactly what Daisy is thinking or feeling, as she is torn between Gatsby and her husband Tom (the fine and imposing Greg Brostrom).
The supporting cast in this production is just as strong as the leads, including Carlyn Connolly with a terrific performance as Jordan, Siobhan Fitzgerald as Myrtle, and Daniel Rios, Jr. as George, Myrtle's husband. Rebecca Ellis and Gabe Belyeu are also good in a variety of roles. Director Todd L. Underwood brings out the best in his actors and has also paced the show extremely well, as the story careens toward its inevitable conclusion.
The lighting design by Marcus Abbott is piercing and effective, and Tiffany Hopkins' projection design is brilliant, being incorporated seamlessly into the overall scenic design. The sound design by Jacob Zonderman is crystal clear, and the music played throughout the show helps to bring the play's time period fully to life.
The Great Gatsby at Ivoryton Playhouse shines in all departments and is so good and atmospheric that it can rivet and even surprise one (such as me) who knows the plot of the love story by heart. This is one of the strongest productions I have seen at this theater and is most highly recommended.
The Great Gatsby runs through October 23, 2022, at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.