BWW Review: Bay Street's THE GREAT GATSBY
It is always such a treat to attend a show at the Bay Street Theater and to see what they do for the community outside their busy main stage season which is in the Summer. This includes investing heavily in their educational programming which contains their annual Literature Live! production. To quote Bay Street, "Literature Live! is a BOCES-approved Arts-in-Education program. Plays chosen are from the standards-based literature and are supported with teacher-developed lesson plans and reference materials. All performances are 90 minutes and weekday shows are followed by a question and answer session. Bay Street Theater is committed to supporting students who have little or no access to the performing arts in schools. Now in its 10th season, the program has successfully served over 60 schools and nearly 30,000 students and their educators. The production is performed free for student groups and their teachers from across Long Island. Literature Live! is currently being supported by a Matching Grant of $100,000, with $27,550 currently raised to date. School groups can reserve free tickets for their group by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org"
Running through November 25th, Bay Street vet Joe Minutillo directs the boffo incarnation boasting a wonderful ensemble cast. The titular character, Jay Gatsby, is strongly portrayed by Charlie Westfal. Gatsby is a mysterious, very well-to-do man who has long been enamored with Daisy, a young Louisville debutante endearingly portrayed by Sara Carolynn Kennedy. They previously met when Gatsby was in World War I and haven't seen each other in years. However, Nick, Daisy's cousin portrayed charmingly by John Kroft, has just moved into town and arranges for them to meet. Of course, Daisy is currently married unfortunately to a despicable man, Tom portrayed by Dan Fenaughty. In truth, I could really go on and on about the cast as they are all terrific.
For the record, this is not a funny tale or any sort comedy; the storylines are intense, dark, and the cast is top-notch delivering. The story, set on Long Island in 1922, depicts and explores human emotions and actions like ambition, love, and lust among others. Primarily, it seems to go into the struggles of that time of class and the American Dream.
On Mr. Minutillo's creative team, Mike Billings' set is smart and lovely with mostly rolling pieces for the intimate stage making for seamless scene changes. This is stunningly enhanced with Mr. Billings' lighting design and Melanie Clifton-Harvey's beautiful costumes. It is always fun to see men in suits and the women's flapper dresses are dazzling. If there is a minor qualm, there seems to be some fleeting moments of the choreography that seem slightly awkward, but chalk that up to big, fun jazz choreography with limited overall space.
And so, The Great Gatsby is indeed another hit for the adorable Bay Street Theater. Be sure to catch this powerful, visually stunning production. A classic tale and a fabulous cast make for a thrilling night of theatre.
By F. Scott Fitzgerald's, adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, directed by Joe Minutillo (Literature Live! productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Scarlett Letter, Death of a Salesman), Choreography by Stephanie Vertichio, Original Music by Michael Holland, Fight Direction by Rick Sordelet, Set and Lighting Design by Mike Billings, Projection Design by Brian Staton, Costumes by Melanie Clifton-Harvey, Hair & Make-up by Meg Murphy, Stage Management by Taylor Alyssa Marun, and Melisa Zorer (Assistant Stage Manager).
Starring Charlie Westfal (Guild Hall: Romeo & Juliet; Columbia University: The Cherry Orchard, Mother Courage), John Kroft (Bay Street's The Tempest; Regional: Bram Stoker's Dracula; New York: Dan Cody's Yacht), Sara Carolynn Kennedy (New York: Hindle Wakes, For All My Girls; Regional: Shout!, The Mod Musical), Alexandra Kopko (Regional: It's A Wonderful Life, Uncle Vanya, Dark and Stormy), Dan Fenaughty (National Tours: The 39 Steps, Miracle On 34th Street, Cabaret), Chauncy Thomas (Bay Street's To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Bay Street's New Works: The Prompter), Amanda Kristin Nichols (Bay Street's The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Bay Street's The Tempest, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet), Scott T. Hinson (Bay Street's: To Kill a Mockingbird, Men's Lives, Death of a Salesman), and Stephanie Turci (New York: '68: A New American Musical; Regional: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Wiz)
Photo by Lenny Stucker/lennystucker.com