These Gilded Souls Review by Jen Bush
Cast: Adam Bjelland, Hari Bhaskar, John Brautigam, Jon Geffner, Laura Gilchrist, Peter Goike III, Deanna Ibrahim, Anjar Khadilkar, Edward Martinez, Michelle Osojnak, Elizabeth Rowe
These Gilded Souls by Aly Kantor is an adaptation of a masterpiece of American fiction, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s billed as a jazz age ghost story because the character of Nick Carraway recounts his memories from a time gone by. There is also some tantalizing queer character interpretation infused into this adaptation.
It’s the roaring twenties. The economy is booming and decadence rules. Nick Carraway rents a summer home on Long Island near his cousin Daisy and self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby. Nick gets invited to one of Gatsby’s coveted lavish affairs. Lives intertwine as characters get caught up in Indulgence, negligence and irresponsibility. Relationships are tested and old loves are rekindled amid scandal and debauchery. These characters harbor secrets and secret desires that make for a compelling dramatic piece of theatre.
Fitzgerald’s novel was well represented in this stage adaptation. The fascinating fully realized characters translated well from the source material onto the stage. The actors were all dialed into their roles and effectively transported the audience back to a thrilling time in history. With great skill and care the cast brought the deeply emotional material to life. Hari Bhaskar was brilliant as Nick Carraway who also served as the narrator. Recalling his performance from a different production, this is an actor who can easily pivot from comedy to serious drama. He possesses a commanding magnetic stage presence with the ability to keep the audience engaged.
Fashionable and tasteful period costumes perpetuated the illusion of the era. From the delicate chiffon on the ladies’ dresses to the men’s chic ensembles, the cast was expertly outfitted. The character of Jordan Baker had a particularly classy costume. The set was minimal with a nice touch being an old-time record player. Though this was not a musical, there was a high energy show stopping dance number in act one that had the audience all jazzed up, no pun intended. The dance number really captured this time in history when flappers and fellas kicked up their heels on the dance floor without a care in the world.
Fans of the novel will be pleased with this deft interpretation of the material. This show will also appeal to theatregoers who like historical drama. A talented well-prepared cast in classy threads equaled a quality stage production. These Gilded Souls was indeed a gilded production.