Gatsby at the Southwark Theatre Review
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The South-West London gem of a theatre Southwark Playhouse brings to you a captivating musical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Gatsby. Alongside period glitz and glamour, a smoky jazz score features strong performances of West End talent in an intimate setting.

Writer and Director Linnie Reedman attested that “Gatsby has become, over the years, synonymous with glamour, glitz and parties. What a lot of people forget, however, is that the ‘Roaring Twenties’ came immediately after a World War. And a global pandemic. It was a period of upheaval and great change. I think the story of a crushed American dreamed, juxtaposed against individual hope and optimism is essentially pertinent today…”

Gatsby at the Southwark Theatre Review
Jodie Steele, Ross William Wild (Daisy Buchanan, Jay Gatsby) at the Southwark Theatre

Leading on the stage as Daisy Buchanan is Jodie Steele (Heathers, Theatre Royal Haymarket, Six: The Musical, Kenny Wax) who tells the story through Daisy’s eyes. Jay Gatsby played by ever-so-charismatic Ross William Wild (Spandau Ballet, Million Dollar Quartet, Mark Goucher) while Luke Bayer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Rent, Hope Mill Theatre) took the role of Nick Carraway. Tom Buchanan is played by Bradley Clarkson (Guys and Dolls, Gordon Craig Theatre, Dreamcoats & Petticoats, Playhouse Theatre) and Robert Grose (Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre, Smokey Joe’s Café, Prince of Wales) brings to life the notorious gangster Woolfe.

Joe Evans’ score manages to capture both the hedonism and the deep despair of the age

– The Stage

Julie Yammanee as Myrtle Wilson, Juan Lobo as George Wilson. Freddie Love as Jordan Baker and Oliver Mawdsley as Owl Eyes also bring the 1920s Speakeasy atmosphere to the stage, alongside Tristan Pegg and Ash Weir, taking on all the other roles.

Ikon London Magazine spoke to the male lead Ross William Wild about trying on the role of mysterious Jay Gatsby.

In Ross’s words, “Jay Gatsby is quite an enigma. He’s got quite a few different faces: Gatsby the upstanding gentleman; Gatsby the little boy; Gatsby the gangster… His is a character of his own making and it’s interesting going through the play and scratching the surface, finding all the different sides to him.” Which side of Gatsby has the performer and singer enjoyed to play the most? None and all it would seem. “The whole his multi-dimensional character very interesting but as an actor, its’ interesting in a sense that we have to play all the different parts.”

Unlike Baz Luhrman’s emotionless film, Linnie Reedman’s seedy speakeasy production has a real sense of mood…. a cocktail of despair and violence.

– Mail on Sunday

Famously played by Di Caprio, the role of Jay Gatsby it’s not a little one to perform. But the task wasn’t a daunting one for Ross: “I definitely went for researching the book and delving into the script of the play. Di Caprio portrayal, as great as that was, it wasn’t something I was referencing.”

Tristan Pegg (Reporter)

The Musical saw previous successes as a sell-out concert at Crazy Coqs in Piccadilly and an online streamed concert performance at Cadogan Hall. This production not only revels in the decadence of the period but also draws out the story’s relevance to today and incorporates relatable and contemporary sound.

This original retelling is Intertwined with the sophisticated harmony and yearning beat of jazz, skilfully harnessed by Composer Joe Evans and Musical Director Victoria Calver. Arranged and Orchestrated by Henry Brennan, it embodies the novel’s themes of enchantment, heartbreak and optimism – something we can all relate to. Now perhaps more than ever.

Gatsby The Musical as Southward Theatre
Gatsby The Musical as Southward Theatre

We are told by Ross that there was a new song in previous version of a musical and a few script changes. In this version [playing at Southwark Playhouse], there are a few new songs and a few taken out. “It’s been quite dramatic evolution in the past two years,” attested the performer. “The best musicals are re-written, as they say.”

The musical theme, reminiscent of eclectic and mesmerising tunes by The Sparks Brothers, keeps very true to the book. In the words of Ross William Wild, “Joe Evans composed a beautiful song book where he captures sonic elements of the 1920 but at the same time, manages to keep songs palatable and contemporary, fo very wide audiences.”

William Wild is a versatile performer on stage – effortlessly matching his pitch to that of Jodie Steele but also projecting his strong baritone during solo, to the delight of viewers. How does he manage? “Everything I do in the arts is collaboration. Absolutely everything from my band to musical theatre. I’ve been in bands since I was eleven and [being a team player] comes naturally to me.”

The remaining cast and crew brought to the stage the liveliness of wonderfully choreographed dance routine with pitch perfect singing. Definitely worthy of a large stage, the Gatsby Musical runs in Southwark Playhouse until January the 8th.


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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).