Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

The Great Gatsby
Downtown Cabaret Theatre
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Zander's review of Other Desert Cities and Fred's review of Love Letters

Chris Kozlowski and Chelsea Dacey
Photo by Kevin McNair
Downtown Cabaret Theatre's production of The Great Gatsby is a wonderfully handsome, exceedingly well-cast show. For anyone who has either read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel or seen one of the movie versions, the plot will be quite familiar. What makes this stage adaptation (by Simon Levy) worthwhile and viable is the sense of style that the Downtown Cabaret Theatre's staging exhibits and how excellent the leading actors are at portraying the iconic characters.

Indeed, the lovers at the center of the show, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, are ideally played here by Chris Kozlowski and Chelsea Dacey. Even more importantly—because he is the narrator and the audience's guide throughout the show—is how splendid Eric Regan is in the pivotal role of Nick Carraway. So, even if you feel like you have experienced The Great Gatsby before, the Downtown Cabaret Theatre's production of this classic work is still worth checking out.

The curtain is up when the audience enters the theatre and we are instantly introduced to the stylish set design by Kevin Pelkey that is perfectly appropriate for the show's time and place: Long Island, New York, in 1922. And, once the company enters wearing snazzy period costumes (designed by Jessica Camerero) and doing a jazzy dance (nicely choreographed by Joshua Cardozo), the era is precisely conjured up. It does take a little time for the production to find its footing in establishing the show's plot and its characters. Once it does, though, everything about this production is golden.

Director Julie Bell Petrak keeps the pacing brisk and well focused and she elicits superb performances from her leading actors. The pretty and pert Chelsea Dacey is an expert Daisy and she easily makes it clear why someone would pine for years to be with her. Similarly, the elegant and good-looking Chris Kozlowski is the perfect Jay Gatsby; he is also able to reveal all the complicated emotions that Gatsby feels throughout the play. (Just watch his nervousness as he prepares to see Daisy for the first time in several years).

Just as fine (or even better) is the extraordinary Eric Regan as Daisy's cousin Nick Carraway. Exuding authority and also a feeling of yearning, Regan is the ideal guide as the plot unfolds. Eric Regan has excelled in a number of shows at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, but I think he has outdone himself in this role. Other stand-outs are the sophisticated Stanley Geter as Tom Buchanan, the attractive Kristin Gagliardi as Jordan Baker, and Lisa DeAngelis, who is just right playing the "other woman," Myrtle Wilson.

This production is also blessed with a wonderful music score by Christopher Cavaliere, which helps establish the right atmosphere, as well as a striking lighting design by Phill Hill. The Downtown Cabaret Theatre's presentation of The Great Gatsby is intriguing and enjoyable to watch and, thanks to its splendid trio of actors in the central roles, it consistently holds interest, even for those who are extremely familiar with the show's plot. The Great Gatsby at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre proves to be a real pleasure and, thus, can be highly recommended.

The Great Gatsby continues performances at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT through February 21, 2016. For tickets, please visit or call the box office at 203-576-1636.

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