‘The Great Gatsby’ Well-Told by PaliHi

If you want an entertaining evening and need to remember why F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby” is considered one of the 20th century’s best American novels, go see the play at Palisades Charter High School. There are four performances left: November 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and November 11 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Mercer Hall, 15777 Bowdoin St. Tickets may be purchased at the door or at brownpapertickets.com.

Jay Gatsby, played ably and with just the right amount of optimism by Jagger Hunt, fell in love as a younger soldier with the beautiful, rich Daisy Buchanan (Fiona Aular).

His obsession with her has driven his life–driven him to become a millionaire in an effort to win Daisy’s love. He purchases a mansion near Daisy and her husband Tom (Ezra Schoeplein), in order to reconnect with her.

“The Great Gatsby” at Palisades High School

The story starts with the simple narration of Nick Carraway (Jack Butler), who helps us see the story through his eyes. Butler is good, and we automatically connect with his story-telling.

The novel/play is a portrait of the jazz age, set in Long Island in the summer of 1922. Directed by Cheri and Monique Smith, the story has decadent parties brought to life by the Pali Dance Team. Two exceptional singers, Enzo Alexander and Taylor Schonbuch, tie the play to the period.

I could listen to these two sing all day and loved their duet of “Ain’t Misbehaving.” Even if you’ve seen the play before, you probably have never heard voices like these—go.

As the play continues, and Gatsby sends away his servants and the parties disappear, the play focuses more directly on the characters and the audience is pulled into the tragedy.

Daisy, as played by Aular, is sweet and seems to need the “strong men” around her to make her decisions. But Aular also played the undertones, so we saw that more than any other character, Daisy is a manipulator—and not helpless.

Schoeplein, playing her husband, is the right amount of brutish and thoroughly self-centered—as he should be.

Loved Jordan Baker (Gabi Feingold), she seemed to be the epitome of a “modern woman,” a golfer who knows what she wants and will get it.

Then we have the “poor” couple George (Declan Wells) and Myrtle Wilson (Martha Ward). Martha plays Myrtle with a fierce survival vitality—she will get out of her marriage with George. Wells, who is smitten with his wife, and totally naïve to the people he is facing, fights to save the marriage.

Special recognition needs to go to the choreographers: Cheri Smith, Hayley Haag, Michelle Olson and the Spellman Sisters.

Once again, on the heels of “The Producers,” the PaliHi drama department has pulled off a winner with “The Great Gatsby.”

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