Lejeune High School Theater Guild’s ‘Gatsby’ tackles dark themes, complex characters - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Lejeune High School Theater Guild’s ‘Gatsby’ tackles dark themes, complex characters

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Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2019 8:35 am

1920s jazz lilted from speakers throughout the newly renovated Lejeune High School auditorium. Aside from that, the stage was quiet. The splendor of the set, a backdrop of a pair of eyes staring into the distance and elaborate pillars depicting gargantuan letter “G’s”, was contrasted by the solemn silence that permeated the auditorium. Much like the subject matter of the LHS Theatre Guild’s show, there was a duality depicting the secret cynicism that often accompanies those with great luxury.

The LHS Theatre Guild put on Simon Levy’s “The Great Gatsby” in the LHS auditorium Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4. Prior to the Saturday show Jonathan Connor, director, took the stage to address the audience regarding its rather dark subject matter.

“These kids have done amazing work with this show,” Connor said. “F. Scott Fitzgerald did not shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly when he wrote his novel. A lot of the people you’re going to meet are not nice people.”

Themes touched upon included race relations, violence against women, alcohol abuse and adultery.

Despite that, the cast of players who would take the stage were excited. For some, the seeming innocence of their characters in contrast to the dark themes could be seen as relatable. Kalib Pagan, a sophomore, spoke to what he liked most about his character Nick Carraway.

“He’s a pretty awkward character and I’m a bit awkward myself,” Pagan said. “I think the audience can see themselves in my character. He’s a middle class guy in a new place.”

Nathan Perdue, a senior who has been in seven productions in his time at LHS, saw his character’s depth as a fun space to play in as well.

“(George) Wilson is one of the most complex characters in the show,” Perdue said. “He’s a normal person who gets pushed into doing something horrible. Playing characters with emotional depth is fun. When I was playing freshman year I was playing small characters. Now I’ve been in bigger roles but get to be in a supporting lane again.”

Perdue also mentioned his other favorite thing about being in a supporting role.

“Having less lines to memorize is great too,” Perdue joked.

Abigail Paquin, in the role of leading lady Daisy Buchanan, also grasped the dark themes surrounding her character.

“She (Daisy) is frustrated,” Paqutin said. “She’s very confused.”

Prior to Saturday’s show Connor made mention of how well Friday’s opening night went.

“I told the kids the night before that a bad dress rehearsal means a great opening night,” Connor said. “I was a little nervous because of how great the dress rehearsal went. The show was great. This is some of the best work these kids have ever done.”

“It was a fantastic performance,” said Matthew Howard, a senior portraying Jay Gatsby.

Getting to the stage had not been an easy process either due to damage to the school following both a fire and Hurricane Florence.

“We almost changed the show to ‘Wizard of Oz’ because it felt like we were going to be swept up by a tornado,” joked Connor.

Being back on their stage was a big deal for the players. Even with back to back shows on Friday, the morale didn’t wane.

“It feels good to be back in my element so to speak,” Howard said. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep that energy up on the early Saturday show but I feel good about it.”

The production was dedicated to Matt Smith, an LHS student originally cast to play Gatsby in the show. Smith was diagnosed with cancer not long after roles were cast.

The LHS Theatre Partisans, a parent group who helps put on shows, is currently seeking volunteers and board members.

The school’s winter production will be announced June 7.

CAST and CREW:

Jay Gatsby - Matthew Howard

Jordan Baker - Sophia Harding

Mr. McKee - Joseph Crespo

Nick Carraway - Kalib Pagan

Mrs. Michaelis - Mia Buckson

George Wilson - Nathan Perdue

Tom Buchannan - Aaron Pierce

Daisy Buchannan - Abigail Paquin

Meyer Wolfsheim - Joseph Saucedo

Myrtle Wilson - Sophia DiBella

Policeman - Barrett Odom

Mrs. McKee - Naomi Watts

Stage Manager - Kayla Van Buren

Stage Crew - Brianna Croft, Navar Hickman, Christopher Tillman, Donovan Hintz, Mary Fuselier, Arabella Hyde, Katalina Lezama, Madison Bartlett

Set Design - Jonathan Conner

Props - Heather Costello

Costuming - Mia Buckson, Michelle Buckson

Lighting and Sound - Noelle Racadio, Alecia Fuller

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