Beyond the green light: backstage at WEGO’s The Great Gatsby


Photo by Sofia Tamayo

Juniors Carolyn Fleming and Mariana Acosta, and sophomore Miranda Bucio, await their cue on Friday.

By Sofia Tamayo, Reporter

This past weekend, there were more eyes than just those of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg on WEGO’s The Great Gatsby.

WeGo Drama is an extracurricular club within the walls of West Chicago Community High School known for producing shows ranging from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Cinderella, The Addams Family, Clue, and more. In early September, the Wildcat Chronicle got to go behind the scenes of the club’s second show of the season, The Great Gatsby.

Set in the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby, originally a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a beloved story turned into a play, movie, and English class reading requirement. The story follows characters Daisy Buchanon and Jay Gatsby in their love story, which is all told through the narrator/third wheel, Nick Carraway. Junior Alex Bradley landed the leading role as Mr. Jay Gatsby. 

Bradley loved his role because Gatsby is such an “energetic and charismatic guy.” 

That passion for the characters and the show was shared by the entire ensemble. From singing and dancing together to helping each other with costumes and makeup, it is clear there is a lot of support in the well-run machine that is WeGo Drama.

The cast prepares together for their opening night on September 9. The Great Gatsby, set in 1922, requires actors to do their best to represent the time period accurately, including coiffed hair and multiple layers of makeup. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Actors continue applying their stage makeup. Stage makeup tends to be heavier than everyday natural makeup due to the fact stage lights may wash actors out. To compensate, actors accentuate features such as their eyes and lips so they can be seen from all over the theater. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
In theater, all actors wear makeup, just not all can do it themselves. Here, junior Nancy Sanchez helps her castmate blend his foundation. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Prepping costumes before the show is key for actors, especially in the case of quick changes. Junior Alex Bradley has one of the fastest changes in the show during act two. He spends his time before the show prepping – as he put it – Gatsby’s “dripped out” outfits. Those outfits include a full white suit, a tan suit, and a 1920s historically accurate striped bathing suit. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Continuing with costume prep: millionaires cannot have wrinkled shirts. Senior Vincent Ross, who plays Meyer Wolfsheim, helps Alex Bradley steam his shirt. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Sets and props make a show. From the audience, a stage can be transformed into a whole different world. Backstage, where props are stored, the vibes of the 1920s are definitely present, but in a more “organized chaos” kind of way. “Stage crew” refers to the members of WeGo Drama in charge of placing and moving props. They are a pivotal part of every show. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Different eyes see different things. Actors stand in the wings; most will never view the show from the front. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Less is more, but not in this case. Actors consistently have to replenish their makeup due to the fact their makeup may begin to sweat off under all the stage lights, and sometimes makeup changes can mean a change in character. (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
Looking like they are straight from the 1920s, these actors are ready to take their place on the stage. From left to right: Mariah Varando (sophomore), Karidja Monjolo (junior), Sentia Irakoze (sophomore), Annaliesa Herbst (sophomore), Kaylianna Koeune (junior), Dinah Humphrey (junior), Carolyn Fleming (junior), Mariana Acosta (junior), and Ellie Hurley (senior). (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)
The Jazz Age couple: Daisy Buchanon (senior Ellie Hurley) and Jay Gatsby (junior Alex Bradley) encapsulate a forbidden romance. But remember, “God sees everything.” (Photo by Sofia Tamayo)