On the Red Carpet: How The Great Gatsby on Broadway Foregrounds Its Women | Playbill

Opening Night On the Red Carpet: How The Great Gatsby on Broadway Foregrounds Its Women

Plus, see Tony winner Adrienne Warren, Marla Mindelle, the former queens of Six on Broadway, and more out to celebrate the new musical.

Eva Noblezada and Jeremy Jordan Michaelah Reynolds

There were cheers on Broadway April 25, as The Great Gatsby celebrated its opening night in style. Stars Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada arrived to the Broadway Theatre in a vintage green car that would have made Jay Gatsby proud. 

Smiling, Jordan told Playbill on the red carpet, "I'm excited for the party. It's gonna be pretty epic. When we arrived here in vintage cars.... I can only imagine what's coming next." It's been a whirlwind season for the star—he originally did The Great Gatsby at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in the fall, then the show was subsequently fast-tracked to Broadway. See what critics had to say about the Broadway bow here.

Click here to purchase the opening night Playbill for The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby musical is based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, following a young man named Nick Carroway who moves to New York City and is swept up in the conflicts within its moneyed class, particularly his married cousin Daisy and her lover, Jay Gatsby. The book has been a staple of high school curriculums for decades. For Jordan, and the rest of the cast and creative team of Gatsby, they were determined to put their own mark on the material that has been so widely adapted (there's even another Broadway-aimed musical version going up in Boston next month). That meant completely leaning in on the Roaring '20s energy.

"We unashamedly wanted to create a big, bold, splashy, lush, beautiful Broadway musical," explained Jordan. "That's what Gatsby would have done—make something grand and vibrant and beautiful. And the music is so lush, and it sort of evokes older Broadway styles. And it's just so gorgeous to look at. It's just a feast for the eyes, the choreography, the sets...And it's here with the Broadway [Theatre], which is this beautiful Art Deco theatre—this all seems to have sort of convalesced to a beautiful serendipitous moment."

Green was the color of the evening, between the green car and Jordan's velvet green suit jacket. Playbill took that cue and decided to have a little fun with the cast by playing a game called: "Red Flag or Gatsby Green Light." Watch below as the cast tells us what qualities in a person were red flags, and which ones they would give a (Gatsby) green light to. And scroll further for more from the Gatsby red carpet.

Many on the cast and creative team have a long relationship with the novel. Gatsby's lyricist Nathan Tyson first read it junior year of high school at the advice of his English teacher Jay Edwards. "He introduced me to, like, story and structure and what makes a good story. And I feel like you know, hopefully I did him proud. And the opportunity to just like work inside of this text and work inside of these words and build a score with my wife and one of my best friends was was the dream."

Tyson's wife Kait Kerrigan is the book writer for Gatsby. And when it came to adapting the novel for the stage, she wanted to build out the world that Fitzgerald created. Because the novel is narrated from the point of view of Nick, Kerrigan wanted to give the other characters the same kind of interiority.

"The Great Gatsby was something that I really I loved reading, but I didn't feel really emotionally connected to the female characters in it," she explained. "Being able to have the opportunity to dive back into that and write those female characters in a way that felt honest to me, and that also honored what was true about the characters in the text—and then hopefully make that something that my daughters can relate to more easily."

Perhaps the most divisive character in The Great Gatsby is Daisy Buchanan, the object of Jay Gatsby's affections—who is torn between running off with her lover or staying with her philandering husband, Tom. Whether or not she truly loved Gatsby, or if she just loved the freedom that he represents, is a debate that literary scholars have had for decades. Eva Noblezada admitted it was a challenge to make Daisy her own.

"I didn't want to make her likable based on my comfort levels," said Noblezada, who said that she wanted to marry the Daisy in the book with the more full-fledged version that Kerrigan created. "I could read the book and do Daisy. But it's different, because you have a book writer, you have lyricist, you have a choreographer...I hope that I'm doing them justice and making them proud."

READ: Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada Are Putting Their Own Spin on The Great Gatsby

John Zdrojeski, Sara Chase, Samantha Pauly, Jeremy Jordan, Eva Noblezada, Noah J. Ricketts, Eric Anderson, and Paul Whitty Michaelah Reynolds

Perhaps the biggest change in this Gatsby is a scene that Kerrigan wrote, where Daisy and her friend, golfer Jordan Baker, have a conversation. It's not in the book, but it shows the transition that was happening in the 1920s, as women were slowly realizing that there was more to life than being a wife and mother. The Jordan in the show is very clear that she doesn't want to be married. 

"With Jordan Baker, I wanted to create an independent, strong woman that people could look to onstage and think, 'Oh, I see myself in her or I want to be like her,'" said Samantha Pauly, who plays the role. "Because that's what I feel when I look to her. And when I play her on stage every night, I strive to be more like her and more grounded and centered and certain in who I am in everything that I do."

Another woman that got more dimension, including her own song, is Myrtle Wilson—the mistress of Tom Buchanan. For Sara Chase, who gets one of the most moving songs in the show, Gatsby is a triumphant return to Broadway after a decade on television Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. "I haven't done Broadway in 10 years," she said excitedly. "I was often in TV Land, and I really, really found myself missing this. So my only intention was to just get back and flex that muscle again. And just remember why I love it so much. And I'm so grateful I get to do that on stage every night. I love being back here. I love it."

For the creative team, especially in preparing the show for Broadway, the trick was to balance this heart-wrenching story with the exuberant emotions and excess of 1920s high society. 

Composer Jason Howland said the trick was to go both deeper and bigger. "Everybody has their own deep attachment to The Great Gatsby," he said, adding that in the journey from its regional tryout to Broadway, "We wanted to deepen our access to all of that—to further dig our fingers into the meat of what's so beautiful about that story. At the same time, we got to go bigger. So there's an 18-piece orchestra, a bigger set, a bigger cast. It's a dream come true."

See photos from opening night of The Great Gatsby below, including red carpet guests Tony winner Adrienne WarrenMarla Mindelle and Constantine Rousouli, the former queens of Six on Broadway, and more.

Photos: The Great Gatsby Opening Night on Broadway

The cast of Gatsby also includes Noah J. Ricketts as Nick Carraway, Sara Chase, John Zdrojeski as Tom Buchanan, Paul Whitty as George Wilson, and Eric Anderson as Wolfsheim. 

The ensemble includes Raymond Edward Baynard, Austin Colby, Curtis Holland, Traci Elaine Lee, Dariana Mullen, Ryah Nixon, Pascal Pastrana, Kayla Pecchioni, Mariah Reshea Reives, Dan Rosales, Dave Schoonover, Derek Jordan Taylor, Tanairi Sade Vazquez, and Katie Webber

Rounding out the company are swings Kurt Csolak, Carissa Gaughran, Samantha Pollino, Alex Prakken, Jake Trammel, and Jasmine Pearl Villaroel.

The Great Gatsby features music and lyrics by Tony nominees Nathan Tysen and Jason Howland and a book by Jonathan Larson Grant winner Kait Kerrigan. Marc Bruni directs with choreography by Dominique Kelley.

The Broadway premiere also features scenic and projection design by Paul Tate de Poo III, costume design by Tony winner Linda Cho, lighting design by Cory Pattak, sound design by Tony winner Brian Ronan, hair and wig design by Drama Desk winner Charles G. LaPointe and Rachael Geier, arrangements by Jason Howland, orchestrations by Howland and Kim Scharnberg, and musical direction by Daniel Edmonds. The music producer is Grammy winner Billy Jay Stein for Strike Audio.

Casting is by C12 Casting, and the production stage manager is Brian Bogin. Mark Shacket of Foresight Theatrical serves as executive producer. The lead producer is Chunsoo Shin, a prominent figure of Korean theatre.

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