NYU Shanghai Thespians Society’s production, Gatsby Shanghai, was performed on campus last weekend to much fanfare. The club hosted renditions on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11, which turned out large audiences in the campus’s main auditorium.

Graphic by Gatsby Shanghai

Gatsby Shanghai, which senior Cindy Li directed, was based on the original book and 2013 film adaptation. While the original Great Gatsby took place in 1922 in New York City, Gatsby Shanghai was adapted to the setting of contemporary Shanghai. Gatsby, played by freshman Owen Roubeni, took on the persona of a local business magnate who lost much of his fortune in the ‘panic’ during Shanghai’s 2022 lockdown. While many of his mannerisms stayed true to those of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2013 character, certain things were changed, such as Gatsby’s signature expression ‘homeboy’ instead of ‘old boy.’

The play also featured interludes of singing and dancing to contemporary music, and some lines were in Mandarin or Shanghainese. This was perhaps inspired in part by the recent Chinese hit TV series Blossom Shanghai (Fan Hua 繁华), in which a bustling Shanghai in the middle of the Deng Xiaoping era Reform and Opening Up (gaige kaifang 改革开放) is portrayed in a Gatsby-esque light. This series is also available in both Mandarin and Shanghainese. While the Thespians Society play could be understood by those who only speak English, some important pieces were in Mandarin. The play’s choreography was also well performed, and the performance went very smoothly overall, even if it was somewhat understaffed. The play was a success and was an enjoyable, creative addition to Shanghai’s cultural scene in a city that in many ways resembles the New York of the original Great Gatsby.