When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2021, there was one thing on the brains of those who consider themselves literary-minded. The date marked the moment that The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel chronicling the Jazz Age, would enter the public domain. Not everyone was thrilled about the addition to the public domain, which means the novel is no longer protected by copyright laws and could be reproduced without permission by the general public. The general public, however, includes famous, acclaimed musicians, such as Florence Welch, for example, who has signed on to write a musical adaptation of Fitzgerald’s work.
The English front-woman of the band Florence and the Machine will collaborate with pianist Thomas Bartlett, with Welch penning the lyrics and Bartlett arranging the music. They have plans to bring The Great Gatsby to Broadway, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and been dark since last spring. The pair will work with Martyna Majok who will write the musical’s book, dramaturg Jeanie O’Hare who will serve as the story consultant, and director Rebecca Frecknall. Per Variety, the production based on Fitzgerald’s source material will have a new title: The Great Gatsby, A New Musical.
Many people have tried to bring Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel to the screen, from Baz Luhrmann giving his best, most extravagant shot— with Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Maguire, and Carey Mulligan as the story’s central protagonists Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Daisy Buchanan—to Jack Clayton directing Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 screenplay adaptation of the book that sits atop almost every American’s high school English class syllabus. The Great Gatsby was also recently worked into an “immersive” experience in London. But few have dared to spin the old sport into a musical for the stage, until Welch got the green light to start working on the public domain document for The Great Gatsby, A New Musical.
“Musicals were my first love, and I feel a deep connection to Fitzgerald’s broken romanticism,” Florence said in a statement announcing her participation in the production. “It is an honor to have been offered the chance to recreate this book in song.”
While Broadway’s recent acquisition of a Game of Thrones play has many skeptical of theater’s imminent return, fans of Welch’s already seem to be excited by the audacious decision to adapt The Great Gatsby into a musical.