"Gatsby" - Florence Welch, Thomas Bartlett, Martyna Majok - American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Cory Jeacoma as "Tom" and Solea Pfeiffer as "Myrtle" with the CAST of the A.R.T. world premiere of  "GATSBY" now playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. through August 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind, and as we drove away Tom was feeling the hot whips of panic.” 

       - (From the novel "The Great Gatsby") / F. Scott Fitzgerald  

American Repertory Theater

Presents the Musical 


World-Premiere Musical!   

Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett 

Lyrics by Florence Welch 

Book by Martyna Majok 

Directed by Rachel Chavkin   

Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh 

Music Supervision by Kimberly Grigsby  

Music Director Wiley DeWeese

Cast Includes: Ben Levi Ross as “Nick,” Isaac Powell as “Gatsby,” Charlotte MacInnes as “Daisy,” Cory Jeacoma as “Tom,” Eleri Ward as “Jordan,” Solea Pfeiffer as “Myrtle,” Matthew Amira as “Wilson,” Adam Grupper as “Wolfsheim,” Joshua Grosso as “Ensemble, u/s Gatsby,” Nick Bailey as “Ensemble, u/s Nick, Tom, Wilson,” Kailey Boyle as “Ensemble, u/s Daisy,” Matt Kizer as “Ensemble, u/s Wolfsheim,” Shea Renne as “Ensemble, u/s Myrtle,” Maya Sistruck as “Ensemble, u/s Myrtle,” Sam Simahk as “Standby for Gatsby,” Justin Gregory Lopez as “Swing, u/s Gatsby,” Cameron Burke as “Swing, u/s Wilson,” Jacob Burns as “Swing, u/s Nick, Tom,” Mia DeWeese as “Swing, Assistant Choreographer,” Paige Krumbach as “Swing, u/s Jordan.” Ensemble: Runako Campbell, Jada Clark, Alex Haquia, Gabriel Hyman, Lorenzo Pagano, Christopher Ralph, Christopher M. Ramirez, Aliza Russell, Shota Sekiguchi.

Additional Creative Team:

Scenic Designer - Mimi Lien; Costume Designer - Sandy Powell; Lighting Designer - Alan Edwards; Sound Designer - Tony Gayle; Associate Director - Keenan Tyler Oliphant; Associate Choreographer - Camden Gonzales.

Loeb Drama Center   


May 25, 2024 through August 3, 2024 

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University  (A.R.T.)

Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


For tickets and more information, visit AmericanRepertoryTheater.org  


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary novel comes to life at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in the long-awaited premiere of "GATSBY" - a new musical that everyone should be racing to see. 

"THE GREAT GATSBY" is re-invented in this world-premiere musical with a score by international rock star Florence Welch of “Florence + The Machine” fame. 

Along with Oscar and Grammy Award-nominee Thomas Bartlett (“Doveman”), Welch’s "GATSBY" score highlights the musical adaptation with its book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Martyna Majok (“Cost of Living”). 

Bartlett is credited with the orchestrations and arrangements which are, in a word, staggering. 

There are blends of multiple music genres in the score which have moods shifting between fun and funky in one moment, to brooding and melancholy in the next, to forceful and rocking a moment later- and all are just a joy to listen to as the story unfolds.

Thanks to the music supervision by Kimberly Grigsby and music director Wiley DeWeese, "GATSBY" is a musical that fires on all cylinders and will have you intrigued at the start, exhilarated throughout and exhausted by its finish. 

Before the ending of the FIRST act (and I have this on good authority), you will want to find or stream a copy, ANY copy, of a cast recording (which doesn’t yet exist but damn well should). 

The musical is based on the 1925 novel, "THE GREAT GATSBY" by Fitzgerald, focusing on the exploits of several smug, reprehensible and malicious social climbers whose actions cause mayhem, calamity and collateral damage in their wake.

Along the way, this group of miscreants raises a lot of hell and has a blast doing it.

There's a series of tragedies in the offing for most of these folks but, much like watching an unavoidable oncoming accident about to take place, we cannot steer our attention away. 

Considered one of the greatest of American novels, the copyright on "THE GREAT GATSBY" expired in 2021 and entered the public domain, and recently being adapted for a separate show currently running on Broadway

This review will only focus on the A.R.T. production and not engage in any comparisons to the Broadway production. 

The original story was also adapted into two separate major motion pictures, one in 1974 with Robert Redford and one in 2013 with Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious titular character “Jay GATSBY.” 

Yeah - I wouldn’t try to compare those, either. 

However, THIS incredibly visceral staged adaptation of the "GATSBY" epic at A.R.T. is brilliantly mounted by Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, who also helmed the productions of  “Hadestown” and “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. 

It almost feels like undervaluing a true artist at work to refer to the work of Tony Award-winning choreographer Sonya Tayeh (“Moulin Rouge!”) as "choreography" simply because this work transcends movement. 

The work is communication. 

The work is sheer magnificence of physical expression in its purist form. 

The work is artistry. 

As such, in "GATSBY," through the phenomenal execution by the ensemble, we see some of this artist’s best work. 

The dancing is both fun and fascinating to watch throughout the entire two hour, 40 minute production.

The A.R.T. show’s music supervision by Kimberly Grigsby (“Days of Wine and Roses: The Musical”) is supported by a phenomenal group of musicians located in the highest reaches of the stage. 

(Photo: Isaac Powell as "Gatsby" and Charlotte MacInnes as Daisy" with the CAST of the A.R.T. world premiere of  "GATSBY" now playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. through August 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, we are guided through the show’s events by our host and narrator, Nick (Ben Levi Ross), who also is integral to the story as he interacts with a principal cast of mostly contemptible characters. 

Ross is outstanding in showing us Nick as a more sympathetic character who is, himself, not completely without sin. 

Nick is contacted by and subsequently assists mysterious millionaire, GATSBY (Isaac Powell) who is obsessed in his quest to reunite with former lover, Daisy (Charlotte MacInnes). 

Fitzgerald, himself, lived through the Jazz Age and used the character of GATSBY to illustrate his own struggles when it came to money, romance and career success.

His intent was to show how, even with the best of intentions or ethics (which few, if any, of these characters have), the reach for the so-called "American Dream" can soon become a corrupt nightmare.

Both Powell and MacInnes are exemplary in their respective roles, shining whether together or separately on stage...but when they are together, one can almost see the steam arising as a result of some very intensely erotic scenes. 

MacInnes, especially, has been given several moments to shine, vocally, including the introspective numbers “Golden Girl” and later with “I've Changed My Mind.” 

Finding themselves separated by the events of the first World War, Daisy has since married Tom (Cory Jeacoma), a former Ivy League football star whom Nick knew during his college days. 

Powell is less smarmy, self assured and conceited than how GATSBY is normally portrayed and, on an emotional level, when he hurts or is hurt by someone, it comes across as genuine. 

Jeacoma brings an unapologetic harshness to the reprehensible Tom who knows exactly who and what he is and reminds everyone else at every opportunity. 

Tom and Daisy live in a mansion located directly…and conveniently…across the bay from GATSBY's estate. 

Nick is introduced to wild, tempestuous golf champion, Jordan Baker (Eleri Ward), a childhood friend of Daisy's. 

Ward is resilient as Jordan, who tells Nick of how Tom keeps a mistress, Myrtle (Solea Pfeiffer), who shamelessly telephones Tom at the mansion at every opportunity with Daisy there. 

Pfeiffer is incredibly absorbing as Myrtle, with some of the show's most emotional musical numbers, such as “Driving My Way” and “The Dream Fought On,” performing with great emotion and depth. 

Myrtle lives with her struggling, hard-working blue-collar husband, Wilson (Matthew Amira), in a large salvage yard. 

Amira approaches the character of "Wilson" as more sympathetic than is normally seen, with a remarkable solo in the poignant number, "America, She Breaks" in the second act. 

(Photo: Ben Levi Ross as "Nick" with the CAST of the A.R.T. world premiere of  "GATSBY" now playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. through August 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

This "salvage yard" is the inspiration for the massive, epic scale set that stretches from beneath the stage to the veritable height of the ceiling. 

Not only is the A.R.T. set design by Tony Award-winning scenic designer Mimi Lien, impressive in scope and size, it symbolizes the massive “waste” of souls we encounter in this story. 

There is an elegant, gliding staircase which is a mechanical marvel, connecting to an enormous veritable “stairway to Heaven” located on stage left. 

Supplementing the above is an incredible lighting design by Alan C. Edwards

Costumes for the production by Sandy Powell are delightfully reminiscent of the period, but with a splash of wild abandon and debauchery that is a decadent delight to observe.

The characters in "GATSBY" either have wealth or want wealth. 

They all live life to excess but, as they swim in a pool that is comprised mostly of this contaminated American dream, ultimately, they offer up nothing of value…except maybe a cautionary tale. 

There is not one inch of unused or misused space in this production. It is truly a set of epic proportions and gloriously utilized. 

The blocking is solid but there seems to be some recurring theme of the characters doing everything on a dining room table except sitting down and eating at it.

(Photo: Isaac Powell as "Gatsby" with Charlotte MacInnes as "Daisy" in a moment from the A.R.T. world premiere of  "GATSBY" now playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. through August 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Additional characters we meet include GATSBY's "colorful" employer and confidante, Wolfsheim (Adam Grupper). 

Grupper’s “Wolfsheim” is a finely tuned balancing act by the actor - deceptively genial at first until we see the gangster's true colors later on in the saga (although when displayed it is hardly a surprising revelation). 

What is surprising is the vibrant tap number, “Feels Like Hell,” seemingly coming out of nowhere but is fabulous to watch. 

“Feels Like Hell” is that rare moment that lightens the bleakness permeating much of the Welch and Bartlett score and brings some of the best (if unexpected) choreography to the show.    

Not to imply that the libretto is devoid of all beauty. In fact, the words and music are overwhelmingly beautiful. 

It is each of the subjects singing who bring their respective "bleakness," moving from the aforementioned "pool" to swimming in the depths of their own emotional sewer – and yet, none seem to want to rise above the water line. 

Other standout numbers include the A.R.T. show’s opener, “Welcome to the New World,” “Shakin’ Off the Dust” and “What of Live, What of God.”  

(Photo: Cory Jeacoma as "Tom" and Solea Pfeiffer as "Myrtle" with the CAST of the A.R.T. world premiere of  "GATSBY" now playing at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. through August 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

At its worst, the story of "GATSBY" – in any form - is a grim soap opera, showing us characters at their most shallow, appalling and repulsive. 

These characters exist on aspirations of “old money,” engaging in meaningless exploits and living on the empty expectations of the nouveau riche. 

At its best, the story shows how we (or most of us, anyway) can take solace in the thought that, no matter how bad our lives might be, at least we aren’t these people.

"GATSBY" at American Repertory Theater continues in Cambridge until August 3rd and, to paraphrase Fitzgerald, whether you see it out of "love" or "a sort of tender curiosity," either way, don't miss this incredible new musical.

For tickets and more information, visit AmericanRepertoryTheater.org  

Approximately two hours, 40 minutes with one intermission.  

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)



A.R.T. has announced its 2024-2025 season and, kicking things off from August 31, 2024 through October 6, 2024 will be William Shakespeare's "ROMEO AND JULIET" directed by Diane Paulus with choreography and movement direction by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

For tickets and more information, visit AmericanRepertoryTheater.org  


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary novel "THE GREAT GATSBY" comes to new life in this world-premiere musical with a score by international rock star Florence Welch ("Florence + The Machine") and Oscar and Grammy Award-nominee Thomas Bartlett ("Doveman"), and a book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Martyna Majok ("Cost of Living"). 

"GATSBY" is staged by Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin ("Hadestown"; "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812"; "Moby-Dick") with choreography by Tony Award-winner Sonya Tayeh ("Moulin Rouge!"). 

"GATSBY" will be produced at American Repertory Theater by special arrangement with Amanda Ghost and Len Blavatnik for Unigram/Access Entertainment, and Jordan Roth, in association with Robert Fox. 

Hannah Giannoulis serves as co-producer. 

Additional production support of "GATSBY" is provided by Janet and Irv Plotkin.



The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of theater, always including the audience as a partner. 


We focus on the research and development of groundbreaking theatrical experiences that catalyze dialogue and transformation. We believe that by engaging our hearts, minds, and bodies, theater has the power to heal and imagine collective pathways forward. We commit to advancing public health in our practice and our programming, recognizing that racism in America is a national public health crisis. Our new home in Allston will be a breathable and healthy building envisioned as a town hall for the twenty-first century. Inspired by the model of a teaching hospital, the building will be a vibrant center for research, experiential pedagogy, and performance. We build community with our audiences, artists, students, staff, and neighbors across Greater Boston, embracing theater’s power to cultivate the full breadth and beauty of our shared humanity. We affirm and celebrate a multitude of perspectives and experiences that reflect the diversity of our country and world. We are dedicated to making a welcoming and accessible space for people of any identity, background, or ability. 


We hold the institution and each other responsible and accountable for living our shared values. There is no hierarchy to these values; they are all equally important and interrelated. We acknowledge that as an institution we must devote time to implementing and sustaining these values:

We center anti-racism

Habituate anti-racist practices in our policies, structure, and culture

We lead with inquiry

Ask questions in a spirit of brave curiosity in our never-ending journey of learning and growth

We believe in collaboration

Work together with trust and respect to unlock collective creativity

We practice adaptability

Challenge assumptions and create capacity to support “next” practices

We embrace regenerative practice

Promote the health and vitality of our planet, our organization, and each other 

American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)

Loeb Drama Center

64 Brattle Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Phone # 617-547-8300

WEBSITE: www.americanrepertorytheater.org