Every day, enduring works of literary fiction are plucked from the dusty shelves of used bookstores and read for the first time. It’s how Northeastern alum Brooke Di Spirito discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned, published in 1922. The 21-year-old said she fell in love with Fitzgerald’s “poetic prose,” his piercing psychic detail and elaborate turns of phrase. True to the Fitzgerald throughline, the book examines the decadent underbelly of American high society in the early part of the twentieth century, through the lens of a troubled romance—one purportedly based on the writer’s own marriage.
Di Spirito, a lifelong ballet dancer with a parallel interest in writing—a passion she describes as a “close second” to dance—so loved the Jazz Age novel that it gave her a radical idea: She would adapt the story into a musical. “I found that his pattern of writing very closely mirrored some of the aspects of what makes musical theater good,” Di Spirito says.
She cites Fitzgerald’s metaphor-infused passages, such as: “Halcyon days like boats drifting along slow-moving rivers; spring evenings full of a plaintive melancholy that made the past beautiful and bitter, bidding them look back and see that the loves of other summers long gone were dead with the forgotten waltzes of their years.”