THE GREAT GATSBY | Hong Kong, HKAPA Lyric Theatre

Choreographed by Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre for The Washington Ballet in 2010, this jazz-age ballet has received its Asian premiere in Hong Kong. Based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the story takes place during the roaring twenties on Long Island, New York, among the lavish, decadent parties of mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby (Li Lin).

One highlight is the bright and bustling first act scene introducing us to the mad characters of West Egg: a prancing nun with her little girls in tow, a beaming baseball coach along with his boys, and some leap-frogging bank robbers. The party scenes are also an absolute treat, including a particularly impressive hands-in-pockets jazz-ballet male quartet in the second half that’s winningly cheeky.

Where the ballet works superlatively is in the humour and clarity of the story-telling. But as a result, the ballet doesn’t quite relay the novel’s gay undertones, or class struggle betweeen Gatsby and Nick Carraway (Leung Chunlong), while presenting the romance between Gatsby and Daisy (Venus Villa) as a straightforward doomed love story (but don’t worry; they kiss in the curtain call).

However, the result of coring the novel is still highly enjoyable and still pretty moving, too. Stunning designs, including a gigantic, uplit golden gate, are by the Oscar-winning Tim Yip. The score is highly unusual for a ballet: a rocking little New Orleans ensemble composed, arranged and conducted by clarinettist Billy Novick, along with some singers (Freddy Au Yeung, E. Faye Butler). Another triumph for Asia’s premier ballet company.

Read the Hong Kong Ballet brochure, get excited, and get booking.

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