Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ragtime Opens in DC

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 03:49

ragtime1.jpgOne of the greatest musicals to ever grace the stages of Broadway is making its return at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Ragtime, which I had the privilege of seeing in New York back in 1998, was an amazingly lavish production featuring, at the time, the largest budget and cast of any show in Broadway history. Unfortunately, that led to its untimely and early closing despite winning the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical and Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Book, Best Orchestrations, and Best Featured Actress. Ragtime is a highly respected and loved show and producers have been trying for close to a decade to bring it back to the Big White Way.

 The JFK Center production, which opens today (April 18th) and closes on May 17th, marks the first significant step forward for Ragtime‘s return. According to Playbill: “The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ production of the award-winning Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens-Terrence McNally musical Ragtime begins performances at the Washington, DC, venue April 18. Originally scheduled to play the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater through May 10, the production was recently extended for an additional week of performances through May 17. Opening night remains April 25. Marcia Milgrom Dodge directs and choreographs.”

Ragtime  has a compelling story authored by EL Doctorow that highlights a turn-of-the-century classist American society entrenched with racism, genderism, intolerance, and a greedy upper class that exploits the labor of the lower classes for its own power and financial gain. According to Ragtime‘s press notes: “At the start of the 20th century, New York City was for many the land of opportunity. Through a poor Jewish immigrant selling wares on the street, a wealthy Victorian couple offering aid to a runaway, and a Harlem jazz pianist out for justice, that unique brand of American hope runs strong. Together, their stories celebrate the struggle between tradition and independence in pursuit of the American dream.”

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