The Jazz Age was in full swing in the ‘20s, and author F. Scott Fitzgerald captured its essence in “The Great Gatsby,” a novel generally recognized as his finest work.
At its core, “Gatsby” recounts the story of a young, reclusive millionaire enamored of Daisy Buchanan, whose character Fitzgerald is said to have modeled on his beautiful, talented yet troubled wife, Zelda.
Though the story itself is nearly 90 years old, its themes resonate today. When Georgia Ensemble Theatre opens its production of “The Great Gatsby” on Feb. 27, audiences should find much that is relevant to modern life, said Tess Malis Kincaid, the play’s director.
“The themes are universal, hope, love, romance, decadence, betrayal, and devastating disappointment and loss. It’s powerful stuff,” she said. “It is my hope that bringing Fitzgerald’s classic novel to life through theatre will reach new audiences while reminding the rest of us about the impact this book had on us when we first read it.”
The production has a multi-level set created by Phillip Male, which offers the chance to create more interesting “stage pictures,” Kincaid said, and live music composed by Jason Polhemus.
“Jason has worked with us as a sound designer and engineer for many years, but this is his first time composing for us. In addition to recorded music, we have a musician in the show who will be playing clarinet and saxophone throughout,” Kincaid said.
There are nine principal cast members and six additional ensemble members. Dialog is a blend of what is in the book and some adaptation. “Much of the language is Fitzgerald’s, particularly the direct address monologues we hear from Nick. He serves as our guide through the story, and much of that language is so rich and beautiful,” Kincaid said.
The theater’s resources director and an award-winning actress herself, Kincaid has directed before, but “Gatsby” is in a class by itself, she said. “The moment that [theater artistic director] Bob Farley offered me this directing opportunity, I was shocked, excited and terrified.”
In her acting work, Kincaid said she goes by the philosophy that if something scares her, that’s why she should probably do it. “Well, I think that translates to my world of directing now, too,” she said.
“I have approached every day with a healthy dose of fear, but also with more excitement and joy than I have ever had with any other directing project. And if I’m doing my job, this story will reach deep into people’s hearts and souls.”
The show runs Feb. 27 through March 16 at Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St. in Roswell. Ticket prices range from $25 to $35, with $10 perimeter seating.