Ragtime Musical Reviews And Articles

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Neil Simon Theatre

250 West 52nd Street


November 15, 2009 (Open-Ended)

Broadway Musical

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Ragtime is a thrilling musical that is centered on the lives of three families. The events unfolding though fictional are ingeniously linked with the recounting of actual events at the time in which it takes place. The story is set between the years of 1900 and 1920. As a result of this, the stage is shared at times with notable figures like Henry Ford and Booker T. Indeed a scene that is constructed on the achievement of Houdini is revealed in the second Act alongside the eponymous title, Harry Houdini Master illusionist. Based on the 1975 novel by E.L Doctorow, Ragtime’s strength lies in its ability of bringing to life issues that were very much prevalent during the decades on which it is set.

The Ragtime musical first premiered in Toronto. It had its opening on the 8th of December 1996 at the Toronto Center for Arts. Its premier was the orchestration and brainchild of Garth Drabinsky, a Canadian who owned a Toronto production company called Livent Inc. The success of Ragtime as well as other factors led to its transition to Broadway. After a pre-Broadway tryout period, Ragtime finally premiered on Broadway on the 18th of January 1988 at the newly renovated Hilton theatre. The cast of Rag time featured  Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Lea Michele, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Audra McDonald. Their performance was so outstanding that they were all nominated for awards.

Even though Ragtime was mostly appreciated by critics and viewers, it only ran for two years before it came to an end. On the 16th of January, 2000 after 834 performances, it finally came to a close.

This early closure was attributed by many to the production’s high costs. A few critics also had some issues with what they gleaned was a problem with the script. While the musical won the Tony awards for the best featured Actress, Book, Original score and Orchestration it lost out to Lion King on the coveted award for the Best Musical. Its Broadway closure would remain in place until 9 years later when it witnessed a revival.

During the period of its absence from the stage of Broadway, Ragtime was produced by other theatre groups. For instance, the Fulton Opera House produced the play in 2004 under the direction of Robin McKercher. It was also produced in West End London by Sonia Friedman between 19th March 2003 and 14th June 2003. During this period Maria Friedman, who played the role of Mother, won the 2004 Olivier Award for best actress in a musical. A production in Auckland, New Zealand was also opened in 2007 at the Auckland Music Theater. Alongside the English renditions, Ragtime has been produced in Japan (by NewImi Theatricals) and in German by Musik und Buehne.

In the new Broadway revived version of the Ragtime musical, the stellar cast of old has been replaced by new and highly commended entries - Quentin Earl Darrington (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.), Christiane Noll (Mother), and Ron Bohmer (Father). It is directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. To view a great online selection of Ragtime Musical tickets click the link.

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