“The Great Gatsby” is roaring to Brooklyn

The Roaring Twenties is coming to Brooklyn!

Montana Repertory Theater is bringing a production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 American classic novel The Great Gatsby to Brooklyn College. The production, adapted for stage by Simon Levy and directed by Greg Johnson, is a 60-plus-stop tour that began in January.

Actor Mason Wagner, who plays Nick Carraway, has found his first tour to be a special experience. “We’re about two and half months into our run and it’s been really amazing to live with show for that long. It’s changed and evolved drastically,” he said. “Coming together artistically as a group of 16 people has been one of the more beautiful things about this.”

According to Wagner, one of the things that separates this adaptation from others is its ability to make the audience a part of the show. “The reaction has been vastly different from town to town,” he said. “The audience has been a big facet of evolution of the show too. It’s like we have a different character in the play every night.”

Bringing the show to life will serve as a treat to those who grew up loving the book. “It’s such an important story for our culture for so many reasons,” Wagner said. On top of that, he went on, “It’s the magic of theater and beauty of bringing it to the stage.”

Brooklynites can expect to see the sets playing an integral part in the show. “Our set designer, John Shaffner’s sets embody the parties of the 1920s. When you look at the fantastic sets, you see this beautiful mansion in decay. It represents the Jazz Age.”

Despite the rigors of the road, Wagner’s love for the novel has made it a positive experience. “It’s been a privilege,” he said. “I was drawn to the story at a very young age. I read the book in seventh grade, not for school, but because I wanted to. Since then, I’ve read it countless times until now. To be a part of this show is special. I get emotional just thinking about it.”

One of the show’s highlights for Wagner comes at the very end. “What comes to mind is the closing monologue Nick presents to audience. It really drives at the core of what Gatsby was doing and represents, not to Nick but to the audience,” he said. “It describes this beautiful reaching out for this unreachable goal. He is reaching out for the green light. Yes, he failed, but we all do and will continue to reach out.  If I can show them that, I will have done my job.”

Wagner also discussed why audiences remain drawn by the story. “I think Fitzgerald was a cultural icon of the Jazz Age and something about that time period is alluring today,” he remarked. “This is one of the best windows to it.”

The Great Gatsby will be performed on Sunday, April 12 at 3 p.m. at the Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.brooklyncenter.org or calling the box office at 718-951-4500.

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