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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Webre's 'The Great Gatsby' Is as Good as This Life Gets!

There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams--not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his own illusion. It had gone beyond her; beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion.
--F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Washington has a treasure in Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet, and it's time we unbury and salute him. He has constructed a new ballet/show/spectacle - The Great Gatsby - that has such "colossal vitality," originality, talent and "creative passion" on display, that you can't look away. Brilliantly, Webre has recruited a top-notch live jazz band and the incomparable talents of Will Gartshore, E. Faye Butler - her "I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" brings down the Eisenhower Theater house - and the Savion-like tap dancer Ryan Johnson. What makes the evening so wonderful is that Webre puts all this talent within one of the greatest frameworks of the English language. The story works with scenes colorfully and lavishly played out, from Gatsby's Charlestonish parties to teas and lunches in Manhattan to the frightful scenes on the highway and at Gatsby's pool. The music also succeeds wonderfully, as a conglomeration of new tunes by Billy Novick and old ones from Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington among others. When in recent memory has such creativity and originality been on display like this in Washington?
Tickets are still available - it runs through Sunday - but they're very expensive unfortunately. If you can afford it, however, it will be worth it. I'm no expert on the dancing, but I am pretty good on pace, creativity, theatricality and a good story. And Gatsby has it all. One wishes it could stay with us longer. I need to go read the book again!
What other ending could rival this one:
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further...And one fine morning - So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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