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Thursday, November 3, 2011

That's Entertainment! Gatsby Returns to Ken Cen in All Its Splendor and Glory

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

Sometimes, I guess, you can go home again. The Washington Ballet has brought back its successful rendition of The Great Gatsby, choreographed by Septime Webre, its artistic director. He has constructed thia ballet/show/spectacle with such originality, enormous talent and passion that you can't look away. Smartly, Webre has brought back the top-notch live jazz band and the incomparable talents of Will Gartshore - now that's a narrator! - and E. Faye Butler - her "I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" again brings down the Eisenhower Theater house. Female tap dancer Quynn Johnson even gets a spectacular solo in the second act. What makes the evening so grand 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, in a conglomeration of new tunes by Billy Novick and old ones from Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin - we were all humming What'll I Do on the way out - and Duke Ellington among others. It seemed even better than its premier a year and a half ago.
Tickets are still available - it runs through Sunday and is highly recommended. 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! (for the 10th time?)

Are there any better last lines in fiction than... 
"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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