The Great Gatsby: A Live Radio Play – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Jay Gatsby is a mysterious man who reinvents himself, trading in his humble mid-west beginnings for a fictional tale of privilege and success. His unrealistic love of the socialite Daisy Buchanan leads him to remake who he is and create a sophisticated gentleman of enormous wealth, one who lives in a huge mansion and throws elaborate parties in the West Egg section of Long Island.

World War I has ended and even though prohibition of alcohol is the law bootleggers are growing increasingly rich by making and selling booze to an eager public. It is the Jazz Age and seeking pleasure is an art form. Jay Gatsby has adopted a new code for accumulating riches through illegal means, as he sees it as the best way to reclaim his lost love, Daisy, and achieve what he views as the American Dream, his ultimate goal. His unusual and tragic saga is told by a near by neighbor and second cousin to Daisy, the soldier and friend Nick Carroway, Dan Frye, the concerned and caring narrator.

Until Saturday, October 1, you are cordially invited to enter this gilded age thanks to the Legacy Theatre of Branford to view Joe Landry’s fateful adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, with original music by Kevin Connors: “The Great Gatsby A Live Radio Show.” Complete with an abundance of sound effects and two delightful commercials, this realistic 1940’s radio show enjoys a set by Jamie Burnett with vintage communications (from the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut in Windsor), period costumes by Jimmy Johansmeyer, props by Erica Pajonas and direction from Kevin Michael Reed.

Erik Bloomquist’s Jay Gatsby is affable, elite, charming and enigmatic as he plays host to society, smokes an ever present cigarette and calls everyone he meets “old sport,” while Mary Mannix’s Daisy is eager to stay in the here and now and proclaim her love today, quietly forgetting she renounced Jay when she felt he was not good enough for her. She is also careful to forget she is married to a wealthy husband Tom (Josiah Rowe) and ignore that he is carrying on an affair with another woman, Myrtle Wilson (Skye Gillespie). Myrtle’s husband George (David Bell) only learns of the unfaithfulness of his wife after a tragedy, one that leads to the ultimate devastation at the play’s end. The American Dream dissolves in greed and decadence.

According to Joe Landry, the play’s adapter, “I was drawn to writing the adaptation of Gatsby because I wanted to explore this classic novel and this generation of American dreamers. The play was published in 2021, and had had a number of productions throughout the country, but the Legacy production is the professional premiere. It’s also the first production I’ve been personally involved with on the creative team, and the first time I’ve seen a production in person. I’ve really loved working with Legacy and Kevin Reed, the director. The production has so many layers and so much to see and hear. I think it’s such a smart and sophisticated production, and it reminds me of the WPA period and photos I’ve seen of the original production of Our Town. The Legacy production is somewhat environmental and recreates the period when the Stony Creek Theater (the same building as Legacy) had a company of radio actors who performed on WELI.” Just coincidentally, my first job at sixteen was at the Radio Station WELI when it was in downtown New Haven, but has since moved to Hamden.

For tickets ($35-60). call the Legacy Theatre, 128 Thimble Islands Road, Stony Creek, at 203-315-1901 or online at Productions are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Green light this excellent radio show reenactment of the live broadcast on New Haven’s WELI, the story of a man who used his wealth to buy everything he desired, except for the most important one, love.