Review: The Great Gatsby Musical – Kings Head ✭✭✭

Received with much critical acclaim as a novel, translated to film, television, music, opera, a play, and even a computer game, why should The Great Gatsby not also take the form of musical theatre? The Roaring Twenties certainly provides a lot of fodder for music and dance. It seems only natural to shift the subject matter into this musical medium. How does it look in its first run at The King’s Head then?

Well, it looks great. Christopher Hone’s design works beautifully, fitting the bill aesthetically, while proving highly, and seamlessly, adaptable. This helps to give the piece a nice sense of fluidity. Even the cast are aesthetically accurate.

Musically however, this piece is less successful. It requires tighter musical direction, from the vocals needing crisper articulation and synchronisation, to the (albeit multi-talented) actor musicians’ accompaniment occasionally needing just a little tuning – although one must consider, as the theatre was so incredibly hot, perhaps that explains the instruments’ accidental detuning. The actual score has some gorgeous moments, yet feels a little stifled overall. It definitely has room to blossom, but this is a hopeful initial endeavour.

Choreographically and in terms of blocking, the 1920s style is mostly met. The acting seems fitting too, but the quality varies a little throughout the cast; some giving more extreme performances than others, and in this small space, it seems the more subtle the performance, the more compelling. Peta Cornish manages the balance quite well, giving a grounded performance as Daisy’s friend, Jordan Baker, and Matilda Sturridge is like marble amongst jagged rocks as Daisy Buchanan. She is perfectly cast, physically and mentally immersing into the era. She has real magnetism and beauty, which could not be more fitting for the role, and captivates her audience with a very full stillness.

The Great Gatsby has real potential as a musical. There’s no reason it can’t work. With a few adjustments, this could be quite marvellous.

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