Stylish ‘Last Tycoon’ Plays Well to Hollywood’s Glamour
Simon Levy has brought the first theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished last novel, “The Last Tycoon,” to the Fountain Theatre, where he earlier wrote and directed a version of Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night.”
Levy has sharpened the focus of “Tycoon” in his well-acted, visually luxurious production, but he’s kept the old-fashioned bad guy vs. good guy feeling.
He couldn’t bring water to the set for the famous post-earthquake flood scene, and the ground doesn’t exactly shake, but his production conveys these with minimal props, clever set design and good sound effects (Charles Dayton).
Boy-genius movie producer Monroe Stahr (Lawrence Monoson), a character loosely based on Irving Thalberg, is loved by the narrator, the much younger Cecelia (Julia Coffey). Stahr still mourns his late movie star wife until he meets a mysterious woman (Karen Tucker) who resembles her. Cecelia’s father and Stahr’s partner, Pat (Tony Goodstone), and his comrades plot to destroy Stahr’s projects and his influence.
As director, Levy allows Monoson to be a bit too remote at first. Monoson’s Stahr is a stolid, great-man hero type, warming up only as romantic heat is added. Tucker is full of the mannerisms of a conflicted, indecisive woman, yet she fairly beams a reluctant charm.
Sets to Go’s design includes three projection screens that help transport us to various locations and hide Art Deco design furniture in the set walls. Costume designer Jeanne Reith Waterman has given detailed attention and gorgeous glamour to every piece of clothing. William and Deborah Bartlett provide some of the fun choreography.
It all makes for a stylish production that seems to condemn Hollywood business practices while also worshiping the lost glamour of Tinseltown in the 1930s.
“The Last Tycoon,” Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Aug. 16. $18-$22. (323) 663-1525. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.