On June 24, the Guthrie Theater—since its inception in 1963 one of the nation’s centers for regional dramatic productions—takes up residence in a newly completed building on the banks of the Mississippi River. Created by French architect Jean Nouvel, the sleek, $125 million structure looks out on a vista of river and city skyline.
The Guthrie, says Joe Dowling, artistic director since 1995, had “long since outgrown” its previous location on the city’s west side. The theater mounts an ambitious program of a dozen productions each year for 400,000 patrons, and audiences are expected to grow to 500,000 at the new facility. There, says Dowling, theatergoers will experience “a full range” of dramatic offerings performed on three new stages.
Fittingly enough, a work adapted from a native son—F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896—will kick off the season. On July 21, Broadway veteran David Esbjornson directs playwright Simon Levy’s stage version of The Great Gatsby—the first theatrical adaptation of the novel that the Fitzgerald estate has approved in 80 years. “One virtue of producing this work for the stage, as opposed to film,” he says, “is that you get a real sense of Fitzgerald’s prose, as the character of the narrator, Nick, speaks directly to the audience. I’m thrilled we’re getting the opportunity to do this.”