By Elizabeth Crews
Actors Creating Theatre, or ACT, is one of the last theatrical organizations at KU. Their chosen production for this spring is a stage version of the iconic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby.” The show dates are scheduled for April 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium.
Drew Boardman, the president of ACT as well as the director of the show, debated how strictly he would stick to the 1920s time period. He decided to make it a bit more contemporary with a musical twist.
He said, “I really wanted to bring this classic to life and make it more relatable for our audience. We added some contemporary music, altered to a 1920s sound that the audience will recognize. We hope that they will have a better connection to the show.”
Auditions were held last semester in order to get a jumpstart on the production, since ACT’s usual time slot for productions is the week before finals. “The Great Gatsby” is actually scheduled a month earlier than usual, so each cast member had to put in arduous work and effort in order to submerge themselves into their roles.
According to Kristan Pagliei, who will play Daisy Buchanan, the show requires a great deal of emotional connection to the characters, and the actors have been impressive in every rehearsal. They continue to rise to each new challenge that comes their way as the show dates rapidly approach.
Pagliei said, “It’s been hard trying to understand Daisy. She’s in a terrible place and I have to be there with her. But she’s taught me so much, not just about the novel, but about myself and my relationships with other people. She’s the most rewarding character I’ve ever played.”
The production initially struggled to make progress, but when the theatre program was cut, the members of ACT rallied together and committed themselves to bringing drama back to campus.
While discussing the subject, Boardman said, “So many people on campus have a passion for the stage and we can’t just let it die. It would rob so many students of the opportunity to express themselves through these characters and the ACT members could not let that happen.”
Boardman has wished to direct “The Great Gatsby” for several years. “It was difficult to pull this together, especially when we were trying to book Schaeffer. It seems so surreal that opening night is only weeks away. It truly is a dream come true for the actors, the stage crew and me. The continuation of theatre means everything to us and I’m proud that we are able to bring a little piece of it back to campus.”
ACT meets every Monday at 7 p.m. in Schaeffer Auditorium room 114. The club is open to faculty, staff and students. According to Boardman, it is never too late to join, especially when someone has the same amount of passion for the stage as the members of ACT do.
Tickets are $5 with a student ID and $10 for non-students at the SUB information desk. They are also available online at tinyurl.com/GatsbyKU.