It’s a green light for Gatsby show

It’s a green light for Gatsby show
Image: GATSBY at The Green Light. Photo: Tom Oldham

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel, The Great Gatsby, defined an era, and indeed, helped name it; the roaring ‘20s (1920s, that is) is often referred to as “the Gatsby era”. It was a time of carefreeness, hedonism, decadence — a playground with no rules for the very, very wealthy. That’s the backdrop for GATSBY at the Greenlight, a new hybrid show being staged at the Opera House this summer. 

GATSBY at the Greenlight is a cabaret/dance/circus/burlesque show created by Craig Ilott and Stuart Couzens, the luminaries behind L’Hôtel . It features an impressive troupe of world-class artists who will sing, swing, balance, juggle, strip, spin and do endless truly amazing things. 

GATSBY AT THE GREEN LIGHT bespoke cocktail. Photo: Anna Kucera

The show also includes an optional premium experience designed by Couzens, that gives you a ringside table, with a delicious bespoke menu and cocktails delivered to you by performing waiters. 

For director, Ilott, GATSBY at the Greenlight, putting together the bones of the show came naturally. Ilott is responsible for a number of award-winning productions including Smoke & Mirrors, Pigalle, and Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined among many others. His disco-inspired, phenomenally successful hit show, Velvet Rewired is a kind of template for Gatsby at the Greenlight.

Ilott and Couzens were actually commissioned by the Sydney Opera House who suggested the Gatsby theme. Ilott remembers mulling it over in his mind before deciding on how they could honour the book without retelling the story. 

Craig Ilott and Stuart Couzens at rehearsals. Photo: Daniel Boud

“The key seemed to us to be distilling just an essence of that original work…how much of this can we incorporate? And really, we chose to concentrate on the enduring love story of Gatsby and Daisy,” Ilott explains. 

In the novel, Gatsby threw wild parties at his waterfront mansion to attract the attention of Daisy, who lived across the bay in a house identifiable by its green dock light. That scenario is the basis for show’s concept – a speakeasy run by Gatsby. 

The setting and costumes reference the 1920s but are not strictly period. The music is contemporary. Ilott collaborated with Kim Moyes of The Presets to create a soundtrack that feature lots of modern club hits but has some sneaky call backs to the Gatsby era. 

L’HOTEL at Sydney Opera House. Image: Sydney Opera House
VELVET REWIRED. Image: Daniel Boud

The show is variety style, a series of individual acts similar to Vaudeville. Ilott finds this sort of show quite liberating because he can take risks with programming and include sure-fire winners along with acts that may have more esoteric appeal. The crucial ingredient is entertainment. 

“The audiences that come to these things, they’re after a good time and it’s our job to give it to them,” Ilott says. 

Adding a hospitality element to the show makes it much more immersive, especially since all the wait staff are also performers who might break out into a juggling act after delivering your cocktail. 

“What we’re trying to offer is not just the show, we really are trying to offer an experience.”

December 16 — February 25

The Studio, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point

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