Friday, July 20, 2007

Ragtime: The Musical

While I have not read the E. L. Doctorow novel on which the musical is based, I went to a performance of Ragtime: The Musical yesterday evening. With a book by Terrence McNally (one of my favorite playwrights and Opera maven), music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, this Tony Award-winning show was a delight from beginning to end. The cast was excellent throughout and made up for any shortcomings (the words were sometimes difficult to understand) with their energy. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Jayson Brooks as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Jeremy Trager as Harry Houdini, and Charissa Armon as Mother. Also a delight was Maggie Portman as Evelyn Nesbit, even as she hammed it up a bit. The story revolves around three families (white, black and immigrant). Their lives are intertwined and with them we meet some of the more famous people of the first two decades of the twentieth century. After a dose of tragedy the musical winds up with a message of hope for the future. With the background of wonderful ragtime melodies it could not be otherwise.

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