Artists in Action: Anniston natives featured in Shakespeare Fest’s ‘Gatsby’
Jan 05, 2014 | 4999 views |  0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston native Rodney Clark will be featured in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival production “The Great Gatsby” running Jan. 31 through Feb. 16. Submitted photo
Anniston native Rodney Clark will be featured in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival production “The Great Gatsby” running Jan. 31 through Feb. 16. Submitted photo
If you wish to see a play based on a beloved American novel that features an Anniston native, then get thee to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Montgomery this winter for “The Great Gatsby.”

This adaptation by Simon Levy has Anniston native Rodney Clark and his wife Greta Lambert in supporting roles. The production runs Jan. 31 through Feb. 16.

“This adaptation is a thing of beauty,” commented Geoffrey Sherman, the show’s producing artistic director. “It is deeply rooted in the novel, combining the words of Fitzgerald and the music and dance of the time of the Roaring ’20s in quickly moving scenes.”

Now is the time to make plans to get seats for the showing of your choice as tickets may go quickly for such a well-known title that, as Sherman notes, offers something for everyone.

“If you like looking back on the Jazz Age, it’s there, front and center. It’s also a love story. And, if you like a thriller it’s there, too. It is set in a period that was arguably the last fun and carefree time in American society and I believe audiences will find it fun, too.”

The principal characters, Jay Gatsby, Nick Carroway and Daisy Buchanan, are a bit younger than the characters Clark and Lambert portray. The two have played primarily leading roles at ASF through the years, “but what they do now in this play helps form the framework of the plot,” Sherman said. “Their acting experience is essential to our play.”

Fitzgerald delved into his own life in writing the novel, Sherman added. The extravagant parties he and wife Zelda attended in the mansions of Long Island’s North Shore inspired the prosperous Long Island setting of that time. After the birth of their daughter, the Fitzgeralds moved to Great Neck, Long Island. Like Nick, the writer found the wild and reckless lifestyle seductive, and like Jay with Daisy, he stopped at nothing in trying to prove himself to Zelda, the girl he loved. It was a trend that led him into a life of decadence.

“Even though he wanted to be a part of this lifestyle, I really don’t think he approved of it,” Sherman reflected. “But of course, he leaves that to the viewers.”

Fitzgerald died in 1940, before “Gatsby” was hailed as a literary classic, not only in America, but England, France and Russia as well, according to Richard Freedman’s book, “The Novel,” a volume in Newsweek’s “World of Culture” series.

It is an extraordinary story, Sherman surmised, adding “Fitzgerald had to have known he had written something great.”

If you can’t make it to “Gatsby” this winter, the production will also show on May 18, 22 and 25. Tickets range from $35-$60. Call 800-841-4273 or visit online at for more information.

Piano Quartet canceled

The Jacksonville State University’s Piano Quartet concert scheduled for Jan.10 in Mason Hall has been canceled due to the illness of one of the pianists, according to Wendy Freeland, coordinator of the Foothills Piano Festival. The next planned concert of the series, “ETA-3” featuring a woodwind trio, is scheduled for March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
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