Review: The Great Gatsby, Northern Ballet, Leeds Grand Theatre, Wednesday 8th March 2023

Set in New York's Long Island during the 1920's, The Great Gatsby tells of Jay Gatsby, previously known as Jimmy Gatz. He is a mysterious millionaire with a corrupt past and a fetish for throwing lavish house parties. The cracks soon begin to appear in the glittering façade of Gatsby's world.

Enter Daisy and Tom Buchanan, her friend Jordan Baker and Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway. Their comfortable lives are about to be shattered by Gatsby, Nick’s glamorous neighbour who once loved and lost Daisy. Their love rekindled is the heart of the story and its tragic denouement.

David Nixon CBE created his ballet from Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel in 2013 and Richard Rodney Bennett composed one of his finest scores - a fusion of 1920s jazz and symphonic styles. The Great Gatsby is now one of the Leeds company’s most iconic productions. Nixon’s storytelling through his spirited choreography flows so beautifully. There is an abundance of spectacular leaps including this choreographer’s hallmark: the girl leaps, or appears to be thrown from the arms of one boy into the arms of another.

Principal soloists take alternate performances: last Wednesday’s first night audience enjoyed the tall and elegant Joseph Taylor as Jay Gatsby and Dominique Larose as Daisy, his former love. Sean Bates danced Nick Carraway, Daisy’s Cousin. Daisy’s husband Tom Buchanan was danced by Gavin McCaig. Amber Lewis danced Tom’s mistress Myrtle Wilson and George Liang danced her husband, George Wilson. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend was danced by Heather Lehan.

Jérôme Kaplan’s smooth set designs and Nixon’s gorgeous Chanel-inspired period costumes transport the audience back a century to the ‘Roaring’ Twenties and the torrid heat of a New York summer. There is even a view of the bonnet of Gatsby’s yellow Rolls as it glides into a filling station and a haunting panorama as Gatsby stares across the silvery waters of the bay towards Daisy’s house. All is subtly lit by Tim Mitchell. Richard Rodney Bennett’s vibrant score is beautifully played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Daniel Parkinson.

The Great Gatsby runs at Leeds Grand until Sat 18th March before touring to Sheffield Lyceum and London’s Sadlers Wells Theatre.