This year’s Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts Literature Live! production will bring Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to the stage.
The classic Jazz Age novel, which is set on Long Island in 1922, revolves around Jay Gatsby, a secretive millionaire known for his lavish, over the top gatherings, who is enchanted with the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, the love of his life from his youth. The classic touches upon the decline of the American Dream, the sociology of wealth, and more.
Bay Street’s production will feature equity actors from New York City, as well as stars that have local ties. Charlie Westfal will portray Jay Gatsby, John Kroft will take on the role Nick Carraway, and Sara Carolynn Kennedy will play Daisy Buchanan. The cast will also include Alexandra Kopko as Jordan Baker, Dan Fenaughty as Tom Buchanan, Chauncy Thomas as George Wilson, Amanda Kristin Nichols as Myrtle Wilson, Scott T. Hinson as Meyer Wolfsheim/Mr. McKee/Policeman and Stephanie Turci as Mrs. McKee/Mrs. Michaelis.
Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy, The Great Gatsby will be directed by Joe Minutillo and choreographed by Stephanie Vertichio.
“The Great Gatsby is a wonderful piece to bring to life on stage with all the nuances and references to society norms and expectations during the 20s,” Minutillo explained.
Other The Great Gatsby creative team members are Michael Holland (Original Music), Rick Sordelet (Fight Director), Mike Billings (Lighting and Set Designer), Brian Staton (Projection Designer), Melanie Clifton-Harvey (Costume Designer), Meg Murphy (Hair & Make-up Designer), Taylor Alyssa Marun (Production Stage Manager), and Melisa Zorer (Assistant Stage Manager).
2018 marks the tenth anniversary of Literature Live!, a BOCES-approved Arts-in-Education program.
Minutillo believes there are many benefits for educators to incorporate theater and the arts within their lesson plans. “It connects the greats – minds of the world past and present – to the youth. What better way to understand Shakespeare than to speak or listen to his own words?” Minutillo explained. “It helps students seek positive adult approval. When little Johnny or Jane squeak out ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ on their violin or play a part in their school play the benefits of the applause for that child can not be measured.”
Bay Street selects its plays based on the standards-based literature and offers special weekday shows for local schools that are followed by a question and answer session.
“There is a direct connection between artistic beauty, love and morality (understanding right from wrong),” Minutillo explained. “After seeing a piece of theatre or coming out of a museum or listening to a Mozart concerto, that student is most likely not going to rob the first old woman they see in the streets afterwards.”
Throughout its ten years, Bay Street has welcomed 60 schools and nearly 30,000 students and their educators to Literature Live! productions, which Bay Street put on at no cost.
“Theatre/Art tends dissolves prejudices. When a student goes to the museum or the theatre and they connect to that work, they most likely connect to it for what it is and not because of who created it,” Minutillo concluded. “In other words when a student finds a piece of art work beautiful they find it beautiful not based on if the artist was straight, gay, white, black, pink, or polka dotted. Prejudice is usually not brought to the surface but rather submerged or even dissolved.”
To offer these free Literature Live! shows to local students and educators, Bay Street hosts an Matching Grant of $100,000. To donate, visit baystreet.org. School groups interested in reserving free tickets can contact [email protected].
Additionally, Bay Street is hosting a cast meet and greet cocktail party at The American Hotel (45 Main Street, Sag Harbor) on Wednesday, November 7 from 6 to 7 p.m. Admission is $25 (+ tax & gratuity) for the cocktail party and $75 (+ tax & gratuity) for the cocktail party and a sit-down dinner that will follow.
The Great Gatsby can be seen Thursdays through Saturdays, November 8 through November 25. Tickets range from $20 to $55.
Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.