Director Katie Underwood says one thing that makes “The Great Gatsby” great more than 90 years after the story was published is that even though it takes place in the 1920s it is still relevant.
“Things people struggled with 100 years ago they are still struggling with to this day,” said Underwood, who is making her Springer Opera House directorial debut with the show that runs Jan. 25-Feb. 4.
The Great Gatsby is about what people will do in pursuit of the American Dream.
“It has a timeless message, that of people striving for better in their life,” said Underwood, an associate producer at the Springer.
It is a tale full of obsession, greed and danger as mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby pursues the elusive Daisy Buchanan, the love of his life, the wife of another man.
“Much of the story is about the disconnect among the classes that we still see,” Underwood said.
The novel was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, considered one of America’s all-time greatest writers, and adapted by Simon Levy.
The story is a familiar one that has twice been made into a film. The first time was in 1974 with Robert Redford in the lead role. It was remade in 2013 with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby.
“The play keeps all the iconic moments people expect from ‘The Great Gatsby but we do have some surprises in store,” Underwood said.
Nate Wasson, who has acted and directed in regional theater, plays Gatsby’ is the Springer production.
It is his fifth Springer show but his first as the lead. A couple of his other roles were as Slim in “Of Mice and Men,” and King Triton in “The Little Mermaid.”
“It is exciting,” he said of his role in the upcoming show.
Of the play, he said, “I have great respect for the writing, which is wonderful.”
As for playing Gatsby, he said will try to put his own spin on the character.
Wasson said he got interested in acting when he was 6 years old. His favorite role has been as Edna Turnblad in the comedy “Hairspray.”
“That is about as far as you can get from Gatsby,” he said, laughing.
Playing Daisy Buchanan is Lucy Banks Sheftall, who might be familiar to some for her role in the Lifetime Network film “Double Daddy” and other television appearances. She appears in Bo Bartlett’s independent film “Things Don’t Get Fixed.”
The talented actress, currently based in Los Angeles, has appeared in off Broadway shows and on the state of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in England. She played Shelby in the Springer production of “Steel Magnolias.”
Sheftall said she is glad to be back on the Springer stage. She talked about her character Daisy Buchanan.
“Daisy is emotionally very volatile, one moment very sad, one moment very excited. There is unbridled emotion. Really, she is very childlike,” Sheftall said.
She called playing Daisy “an honor and a challenge.”
A key character in the story is Nick Carraway, who is portrayed by Devin Altizer, most recently seen at the Springer in “Newsies.”
“The show is in Nick’s voice. It is one of the most iconic voices in literature,” Altizer said. “Nick is an observer, someone who is really on the outside of the action.”
A well-known Springer performer Jim Pharr portrays Tom Buchanan. Among his many Springer roles are Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Kenickie Murdoch in “Grease.”
Playing Myrtle Wilson is Allison Dixon who has performed around the country in regional theater and was last seen at the Springer in “A Chorus Line.”
“It has been a lot of fun working with this cast,” Underwood said.
If you go
What: “The Great Gatsby”
Where: Springer Opera House on 10th Street in Columbus
When: Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, 26, 27, Feb. 1, 2 and 3. Matinees at 2:30 p.m. will be Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.
Tickets: Tickets range from $17 to $37. The box office is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and two hours before a show. Tickets may be purchased at springeroperahouse.org. For information call the box office at 706-327-3688.