Review: Classic Literature Made Modern in Broadway’s The Great Gatsby

The only thing I remember from reading The Great Gatsby in high school is the green light. When audience members walk into the Broadway Theater, that’s the first thing they see—a blinking green light, a symbol of Gatsby’s dreams and ambitions. It’s perhaps a symbol for the show itself, which was greenlit for Broadway after a successful run at Paper Mill Playhouse just last year. With F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel entering the public domain, different productions have been rushing to grace the Broadway stage first—and this version by Kait Kerrigan, Jason Howland, and Nathan Tysen won the race.

The show opens with a flashy ensemble number, complete with glittery flapper-era costumes and real sparklers. I was most surprised that the show didn’t lean into the jazzy tones that the time period is known for—the book leans modern and pop-y. Though there are some gems, most of the lyrics aren’t groundbreaking, and some border on cheesy. Instead, it’s the performances of the actors that make the songs shine. 

Nick Carroway (I saw understudy Dan Rosales, though Noah J. Ricketts usually plays the role) is the narrator of this story, but the real star power comes from Jeremy Jordan’s Jay Gatsby and Eva Noblezada’s Daisy Fay Buchanan. Both are quite established in the Broadway world, with Jordan originating the role of Jack Kelly in Newsies and Noblezada coming from a long tenure as Hadestown’s Eurydice. Both are also strong vocalists with compelling chemistry, making their tortured love affair interesting to watch. 

Jordan was my favorite part of the show. His portrayal of Gatsby feels like a cross between the elusive Wizard of Oz and the obsessive Phantom of the Opera. He occasionally dips into moments of comedy—when he sees Daisy for the first time in years during “Tea,” Gatsby cutely panics over decorations, suit jackets, and tiny finger sandwiches. Noblezada’s Daisy felt appropriately delicate and flitty, but I wanted her to be more—more selfish, more disloyal, more blasé. 

Fitzgerald’s original novel is a tragedy, and while there’s an effort to address this at the end, it falls flat among the shiny gold sets and grandiose numbers. There’s an identity crisis: this adaptation of The Great Gatsby wants to be a fun party, but the source material is melancholy and depressing, and we never go too deep.

If you’re looking for a night of glitz and glamour like the roaring 20s promised, then you’ll find this show entertaining. But if you’re looking for a dissection on the themes of class, money, obsession, and opulence, you might be better off somewhere else. 

But we don’t come to Broadway for English class anyway, right? 

Rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes. Opened April 25, 2024; reviewed May 16.

Annika Olives

Staff Writer

Annika is a Manila-born, California-raised, and NYC-transplanted Filipino-Spanish-American storyteller. Her writing career has spanned from content design to journalism to social media, so she can craft seamless product copy, compelling articles, and killer captions with ease. She’s a techie by day but a creative always, and she loves all things wellness, lifestyle, food, travel, fashion, arts, and culture. Because she’s a Virgo rising and eldest daughter who doesn’t understand the concept of rest, she’s obsessed with perfecting the lazy girl routine and perhaps—one day—achieving that all-elusive leisure. Her simple joys include skincare that doesn’t break you out, chai lattes, baking, a good thrift find, and building trip itineraries on Notion.