Ragtime, written by Terrence McNally and based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, is a lively and moving little story set in New York in the early twentieth century. In the Broadway Series South and North Carolina Theatre production, directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, things get off to a very lively start. During the larger-than-life opening number, cleverly done staging juxtaposes the different “worlds” the play will focus on- the world of an upper class white family, the world of an incoming immigrant, and the world of an African American committed to justice and equality.
Once the large group of colorful and intriguing characters is introduced, their lives all start to intertwine in weird, wonderful, and sometimes devastating ways. Much of the action focuses on the white family in the play, mainly the Mother (Kate Turner), whose life is changed when she finds an African-American baby in her garden shortly after her husband has left on an expedition to the North Pole. Without him there to call the shots, she makes the rash decision to take in both baby and mother, Sarah (Leslie Jackson). Later, thanks to this choice, their lives will all merge with the lives of Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Chris Sams), an African-American activist, and the charming Tateh (Matthew Curiano) and his daughter, two immigrants determined to make a life for themselves in America.
As the intricately connected story plays out- to say much more would reveal some of the show’s best surprises- viewers are drawn into each of the character’s lives, caring about them easily in spite of the fact that each is so vastly different from the next. Beautiful songs and dazzling choreography tell much of the story, with particularly powerful vocal stylings from Jackson. In particular, she really nails the chilling “Your Daddy’s Son” song near the end of the first act.
The play itself is the perfect mix of songs and moods- it’s truly a little bit of everything all rolled into one. There are serious issues, such as racism and violence, that make the show still relevant today as well as lighthearted funny moments and a beautifully blossoming romance. At the heart of this story, though, is America itself. The show is a reminder of the true melting pot that America is, bringing together characters from all walks of life who will eventually combine into a true vision of what this country is and should be. For that reason alone, this classic is worth a watch, whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth.
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present RAGTIME: THE MUSICAL at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 and 17 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25.14-$107.14, except $20 Student Rush Tickets, sold — for cash only — one hour before curtain to students with ID.
Duke Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or email@example.com (information only).
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
BSS GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-996-8707, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south/group-sales.
NCT GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/872829.
SHOW: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/ragtime-5922 and http://nctheatre.com/shows/ragtime.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.ragtimeontour.com/media.html.
THE TOUR: http://www.ragtimeontour.com/ and http://www.phoenix-ent.com/productions/ragtime/index.html.
TOUR CAST: http://www.ragtimeontour.com/cast.html.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.ragtimeontour.com/creative.html.
Broadway Series South: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south, https://www.facebook.com/broadwayseriessouthraleigh, and https://twitter.com/BroadwaySouth.BSS 2016 Season: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/broadway-series-south.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre. NCT 2015-16 Season: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201516-season.
Ragtime (1975 novel): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragtime_%28novel%29 (Wikipedia).
E.L. Doctorow (novelist, 1931-2015): http://www.eldoctorow.com/ (official website) and http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/10137 (Internet Broadway Database), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._L._Doctorow (Wikipedia).
Ragtime: The Musical (1996 Toronto, 1998 Broadway, 2003 West End, and 2009 Broadway revival): http://www.mtishows.com/ragtime-version-1 and http://www.mtishows.com/ragtime-version-2 (Music Theatre International), http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/7352 (1998) and http://www.ibdb.com/Production/View/484345 (2009) (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragtime_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Stephen Flaherty (music): http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/ (official website), http://www.ragtimeontour.com/creative.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/11668 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Flaherty (Wikipedia).
Lynn Ahrens (lyrics): http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/ (official website), http://www.ragtimeontour.com/creative.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/7450 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Ahrens (Wikipedia).
Terrence McNally (book): http://www.terrencemcnally.com/ (official website), http://www.ragtimeontour.com/creative.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/8828 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrence_McNally (Wikipedia).
Marcia Milgrom Dodge (director/choreographer): http://www.marciamilgromdodge.com/ (official website), http://www.ragtimeontour.com/creative.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/109655 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcia_Milgrom_Dodge (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.