Roaring into the ’20s with The Great Gatsby Musical
Florence Welch Plans a New Adaptation of the Classic Novel
by Liam O’Hara ’21 A&E Staff
One of the most notable novels in the history of American literature from the Roaring ’20s, arguably of all time, is Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. First published in 1925, the work tells the iconic story of newcomer to New York, Nick Carraway, who befriends Jay Gatsby, a shadowy businessman. The two attend extravagant parties in Gatsby’s mansion as Gatsby pines after his love interest, Daisy Buchanan.
This classic novel has thrilled readers with its lyrical prose and incisive look at the American dream. The 1925 book has also inspired a wide range of films, including, notably, Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 feature starring Leonardo DiCaprio; it has also hit the stage multiple times with shows, an opera, a ballet, and even other adaptations such as an online video game.
Florence Welch, lead singer of the indie rock band Florence and the Machine, who also received a Grammy nomination, proposed a plan to write The Great Gatsby: A New Musical. Welch will journey into the Jazz Age for this new musical project; it will be one that will offer up fortune seekers and flappers, rum runners and rich debutantes, self-made men and high society standard bearers. This rendition will provide the spine of a new stage show that is eyeing a Broadway run. There have been rumors that the post-COVID era will be the next “Roaring ’20s,” so Welch seems to be taking it literally. Welch will be working alongside Grammy and Oscar award nominee Thomas Bartlett on the musical aspect of it all. Welch has worked with Bartlett in the past through Florence and the Machine. She has always wanted to take her musical talents to the theatrical world, and Fitzgerald’s classic inspired her to create this new piece of art. Welch commented: “This book has haunted me for a large part of my life. It contains some of my favorite lines in literature. Musicals were my first love, and I feel a deep connection to Fitzgerald’s broken romanticism. It is an honor to have been offered the chance to recreate this book in song.”
Len Blavatnik and Amanda Ghost for Unigram in association with Robert Fox reported that Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok will write the book, and the show will be directed by Olivier Award nominee Rebecca Frecknall. Majok said, “I’m thrilled, honored, and inspired to work with this company of extraordinary artists, and to get to live in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s transcendent and gorgeous words. I’m also overjoyed to be reunited with Rebecca Frecknall, with whom I had the most wonderful experience working on my play, Sanctuary City.”
This musical marks the first major new Broadway-bound musical announced since the start of the pandemic, and it will for sure be coming at the right time. The producers said that they will disclose a pre-Broadway engagement and production timeline shortly. Broadway, here comes The Great Gatsby: A New Musical.
David Beckham Returns the Favor of Football
Helps Local Communities in England Save Our Squad
by Liam O’Hara ’21 A&E Staff
David Beckham is a famous former soccer player from Leytonstone in East London, England. He was captain for the England National team and played for other clubs, including Manchester United and Real Madrid. He also played in the MLS for L.A. Galaxy and then went on to found his own team, Inter Miami. After Beckham retired from a remarkable playing career on the field, he demonstrated more of his talents through television and business, eventually launching his own company Studio 99, which he dreamt up during his playing days. “When I retired at 38, and probably five years before that, I started setting the business up,” Beckham explained. “Throughout my career I was successful, not because of me personally, but because of the teams I was with. I knew setting up the team in London was so important.”
Recently revealed within Studio 99 and Twenty Twenty, a U.K. production company, Beckham announced that a new series called Save Our Squad, based on his life, is in the works and will eventually be available on Disney+. Billed as a heart-warming series, the plot of this show centers around Beckham’s return to the East London fields that he played on as a child to mentor a group of kids playing for a struggling Sunday League team. It will not only take Beckham back to the pitches he grew up on, but it will also follow his journey in helping to uplift local communities.
Beckham said, “It is fantastic to be making Save Our Squad and to shine a light on the kind of grassroots football that I experienced growing up and which gave me so much at the start of my life in the game.” He “was so fortunate to have a long and successful playing career and now to have the opportunity to give back to these communities as a mentor is incredible.” Watching Beckham return the favor of football to his home community promises to bring much joy; his talent, ambition, and self-discipline definitely allow him to fulfill such an awe-inspiring role.
Sean Doyle will be the executive producer of the show. He says, “We are so thrilled to welcome David Beckham to Disney+. This is a fantastic opportunity to show the importance and impact of grasslands football in communities in the UK.” This series will bring viewers an inside look into soccer through the mentorship of Beckham. Although it is unknown when the season is set to air, it is sure to be a spectacle to look forward to.
Oscars 2021 Preview: History in the Making
All Eyes on Riz Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins, Female Directors
by Liam O’Hara ’21 A&E Staff
On April 25, the 93rd Academy Awards (The Oscars) will be honoring the best films of 2020 and 2021. These awards not only recognize the actors, actresses, and directors of films, but also a film’s music, screenplay, and visual effects.
The ceremony was originally scheduled for Feb. 28, but due to COVID-19, The Academy postponed it to April 25. This is the fourth time that the Oscars have been postponed in history; the other times were following the Los Angeles flooding (1938), the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. This is also the first time since the sixth award show that films released in two different calendar years will be eligible for award consideration in the same ceremony.
Needless to say, movies are everywhere these days; they have almost all been on either TV or streaming apps. Even though Oscar nominees have to be released in theaters, The Academy modified the criteria to account for films that were supposed to have been released in theaters but ultimately went directly to streaming.
As in recent years, the ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. This year, however, Union Station will also be hosting. As was the case last year, there will be no host. In terms of other attendees, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president David Rubin said, “With pandemic restrictions in place, only nominees, their guests and presenters are being permitted to attend.”
This year is sure to be a unique year for the Oscars not just because of COVID-19, but also because of potential historical moments within the pool of nominees. The Academy finalized nominations on March 15, and some big questions linger: Will Riz Ahmed become the first Muslim man to win Best Actor for Sound of Metal? Will a woman win Best Director for just the second time at the Oscars as several are nominated? And what about Anthony Hopkins, from The Father? If he wins, he will be the oldest Best Actor winner ever. These are some big superlatives.
This will also be the first Academy Awards ceremony implementing the representation and inclusion standards that were announced in September 2020 with the aim of providing more awards to a wider selection of worthy recipients. As noted in its news release, The Academy wrote, “The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the moviegoing audience.” Catch the Oscars on April 25 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Let’s Rant: Student Teaching Music
COVID-19 Challenges and Growth
by Liam O’Hara ’21 A&E Staff
Music teaching has not been the same during the pandemic, specifically for those in the K–12 world. While many music educators have been feeling down during this past year, since there was not a lot of music being made in the classroom, there really is quite a lot to reflect on and a lot to be hopeful for in the years to come.
In lieu of ensemble rehearsing in K–12 school systems during COVID-19, there is a larger focus on using digital audio workstations such as Soundtrap, GarageBand, Logic Pro X, and Pro Tools. Although students cannot play live music like they could before the pandemic, they are learning more about professional music and being a music producer, which is something that did not happen as much before in K–12 music learning. These are now the tools of teaching to help students be more creative and productive in their music learning.
One other thing to note is that children nowadays are obsessed with technology, and the availability of GarageBand on their phones or tablets has led them to veer away from learning how to play physical instruments. If children are enjoying themselves while on their devices, would it not be a good idea to care for children’s interests and to teach them more about music technology and what tools they can use to make music on their devices? Certainly, the more the classrooms are catered to the students’ interests, the more the children will enjoy themselves.
Although COVID-19 has created challenges for music teaching in K–12 systems, teachers have found new ways to adapt and help their students learn about the music world in innovative ways.
Preview of the 63rd Grammy Awards Show
Artists Remain Prolific Despite Pandemic Setbacks
by Liam O’Hara ’21 A&E Staff
The Grammy Awards show is arguably the biggest celebration held annually in the music industry. Some go so far as to describe it as the Super Bowl of the music world. Musicians and artists of countless genres work tirelessly their whole lives to be nominated for specific Grammy categories and then, hopefully, to receive a gilded gramophone for their outstanding musical works. Artists and their works that are recognized for this year’s Grammys released their respective recordings between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020.
The ceremony is what every musical artist hopes to be a part of one day. It is not easy to get to, and it was certainly more competitive to receive a nomination this year. Music became more of a hobby over the months at the start of the pandemic. Harvey Mason, Jr., the interim president and CEO of the Recording Academy, a company sponsored by the Grammy Awards, said, “I’ve spent a lot of time talking to artists, managers and labels and getting a feel for how the pandemic is affecting the release of music—and as I’m sure you noticed, the amount of music released has actually increased during the pandemic, so we would not want to delay our date with so much great music coming out.” Artists tend to create music when working in private settings, and over the last year, people have had more time to work in quiet environments. It really is no surprise as to why more music was released during this time spent in quarantine.
Among the pool of nominees, the most recognized artists are Beyoncé with nine nods, followed by Dua Lipa, Roddy Rich, and Taylor Swift all tied at six. Brittney Howard earned five, and Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, DaBaby, Phoebe Bridgers, Justin Bieber, John Beasley, and David Frost all received four.
Since 2000, the awards ceremony has taken place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Alicia Keys has hosted the last two years, but this year, South African comedian Trevor Noah will take over. The awards were originally scheduled for Jan. 31, but, in early January, Los Angeles County saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, causing many health and safety concerns for the community. Given the circumstances, it was then decided that the ceremony should be pushed later to March 14.
This year’s show is sure to be unique. Mason expects the ceremony to “be live at the Staples Center, with no audience, or maybe something more virtual with some elements from different locations.” Finally, Mason expects that the show will not only contain the announcement of all 83 award winners as well as performances from select artists, but that “the civic and social unrest will be recognized too, and we always encourage artists to voice their opinions, so I expect we’ll see messages both from the artists’ side and the Academy side.” Catch this year’s Grammy Awards on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. live on CBS.