The Great Gatsby Toronto

The Great Gatsby Invades Lower Ossington

Ossington Avenue has been many things lately and it's now welcoming its most famous name yet - The Great Gatsby. Yup, F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic has been transformed into a play by The Classical Theatre Project (CTP) and will kick off evening performances tomorrow (Thursday October 16th) at the freshly painted Lower Ossington Theatre.

I just corralled Associate Producer Tanya Doroslovac who filled me in on the need to know info about the CTP and the show.

What can you tell me about the Classical Theatre Project?

The Classical Theatre Project was founded in 2002 by Artistic Directors Charles Roy and David Galpern. The idea for CTP was born out of their desire to produce theatre; Shakespeare, in particular, and not depend on granting organizations to work. We wanted to create a company on our own terms - it was important to us that it wasn't a burden to the state; rather; that it lived and died on the strength of its art.

And in this case, the strength of the art and our survival as a company depends wholly on tickets sales.

In 2002, CTP played Romeo & Juliet to a couple thousand kids out of the Poor Alex Theatre. Since then, the company has grown exponentially. Last season alone we played to over 45,000 students.

So why the Great Gatsby? This seems a little inconsistent with your focus on Shakespeare?

We want to stay focused on texts that are part of the core curriculum for students in Ontario; but after 6 years of Shakespeare it was definitely time to branch out of the bard's canon into something new. Gatsby was a natural choice as we see it as the American Hamlet. And more importantly, it's also a really great show.

It took over a year to choose what would be our first foray into the modern classics. Charles Roy worked in collaboration with David Rotenberg at York University in February of 07 to create this new adaptation.

The play is being staged at The Lower Ossington Theatre. What do you like best and least about that venue?

This is an amazing question....We finished building the theatre this afternoon at 1:30pm, just in time for the 2pm show. The paint was still wet on the risers when the first audience took their seats.

It's intimate; the sound quality is wonderful; it can accommodate any kind of show. And we're very proud of the fully sprung floor that was installed last week. Audience members have commented that it resembles contemporary European theatres more so than Canadian black box theatres.

But since it is a brand new venue, there are still a few kinks to work out. The paint drying this afternoon will have moved us forward a bit. We haven't had much experience in the room itself yet; but we believe its potential is limitless.

And I guess, another good thing is proximity to so many good places to get coffee on Ossington and Queen.

After the Great Gatsby, what else is on the schedule for this year?

Our next project is Cold Storage, which is another departure from Shakespeare. We're pretty pumped about it because it stars Jeff Seymour from Jeff, Ltd. and Len Lesser, who played Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. It plays Nov 6 - 16 at the Lower Ossington Theatre.

To buy tickets for The Great Gatsby, call the box office at 416.882.4287 or email Tickets are $34 (inclusive of tax, service charges etc.) for general admission. The student/senior rate is $22. The play runs until October 31st. Photo by anne on Flickr

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