Every year, Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) opens its season in a big way and 2015-2016 season is no exception. What better way to welcome its 44th season in Indianapolis than with the glamour and glitz of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?
Attendees were encouraged to don era-appropriate fashion and join in on the festivities, including the Champagne toast afterward. Arriving in 1920's-inspired attire, flapper-styled ladies and bow-tied dapper-clothed men mingled in the historic lobby creating an energy unlike any this critic has seen before at the theater's season opening night. In fact, I am uncertain how this gala will be topped next year, but will be eager to watch the attempt.
The story of people's lives spinning out of control in a world of excess, money and glitz centers on the theory that everyone cheats at something in their lives. Moral compass Midwesterner (and distant cousin to Daisy) Nick Caraway is portrayed by Zach Kenney. Kenney brings a quiet energy to the role, filled with anticipated excitement at living among the wealthy and ready to be one of them.
Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are brought to life marvelously by Hillary Clemens and Teagan Rose respectively. These lifelong best friends are full of mischief, secrets, desires and love for each other's happiness. Whether lounging on a chaise sipping illegal liquor, looking for passion in their lives or giggling over an inside joke, Clemens and Rose shine as wealthy women of the post World War I era.
Tom Buchanan, husband of Daisy, is portrayed by David Folsom with slick, polished manners toward everyone except his ill-fated mistress Myrtle Wilson (Angela Ingersoll). Folsom creates a Tom with a thin pleasant veneer which he keeps in check except when his hot temper slips out for all to see. The actor's ability to portray a successful businessman ~ physically abusive bully ~ manipulator is a thrill to witness.
The mysterious Jay Gatsby's lies, a desire to break through the wall around the "beautiful people" and a desperate need to finally capture the heart of small town beauty Daisy Buchanan, are seamlessly portrayed by Matt Schwader. His lies become delusions, his need for the "perfect" love of Daisy an obsession and his drive to become rich a lifelong attempt to rewrite history.
Bottom Line: Everyone should catch IRT's The Great Gatsby twice. Once for the glitz and glamour and the second time for the moral of the story and wonderful performance. I predict this show will be on more than one Top 10 List for 2015.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes two magazine food and wine columns: Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks,and is a travel, features, food and wine writer, travel and food photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic.Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.