Set against the backdrop of the era of Ragtime music, Ragtime the Musical addresses issues of racial injustice against Blacks, mistreatment of immigrants, and abuse of the lower class by the elitist White upper crust of society. Despite the story taking place at the turn of the century, it’s biting central themes are eerily reflective of issues permeating today’s volatile political state of the union.
The Tony Award-winning Ragtime, as presented by the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, is a stunning masterpiece for the senses. Featuring the Broadway-seasoned talents of Kathy Voytko, Nathaniel Stampley, and Benjamin Magnuson in principal roles, the cast presents the stunning score in a delicious blend of voices, with remarkable acting to match.
Voytko stars as “Mother” – a well-to-do kept woman of an arrogant businessman (well-played by Adam Monley). Despite being members of society, Mother and her brother (Will Mobley) have hearts of gold touched by the inequalities of the world as they affect Blacks, immigrants, and the poor.
Stampley is joy as musician Coalhouse Walker, Jr. – a role he plays with great depth and power as he struggles against racism faced by him and others not endowed with white skin. As Coalhouse’s love interest Sarah, Katherine Thomas literally sent chills up my spine with her stunning voice filled with emotion that aptly captures the anguish of her character’s struggles.
Magnuson brings to life the struggles of Jewish immigrant Tateh as he brings his young daughter (Paula Hlava) to America expecting the promise of a land of opportunity, only to encounter bigotry and abuse of power by the rich against the struggling poor.
The musical, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Terrence McNally based on the novel Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, paints a vast yet intricate picture of America in the early twentieth century. The lives of the many characters intertwine in various ways in a fluid tale of the struggles of minorities and the ignorance of some members of the moral majority and the compassion of others.
In supporting roles Michelle Lauto and Alexander Aguilar stand out as vaudevillian Evelyn Nesbitt and escape artist Harry Houdini, respectively.
Rounding out the cast are Patrick Scott McDermott as “Little Boy”, Terry Hamilton as “Grandfather”, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as Booker T. Washington, Larry Adams as J.P. Morgan, Matt Deitchman as Henry Ford, Christina Hall as Emma Goldman, Larry Adams as Admiral Peary, James Earl Jones II as Matthew Henson, Christopher Kale Jones as Stanford White, Shea Coffman as Harry K. Thaw, Elizabeth Telford as Kathleen, Keirsten Hodgens as Sarah’s Friend, Ken Singleton as Willie Conklin, Zoe Nadal as Brigit, Terry Hamilton as Charles S. Whitman, Blace McGraw as Coalhouse Walker III. Ensemble includes Alexander Aguilar, Curtis Bannister, Ron King, Tessa LaGamba, and Khadijah Rolle.
Direction by Nick Bowling is exquisite, using the theater-in-the-round space for maximum affect and inspiring heartfelt performances by the talented cast. Choreography by Kenneth L. Roberson and Music Direction by Ryan T. Nelson add beautifully to the mix.
Playing Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through March 18. For ticket information contact the Marriott Theatre Box Office at (847) 634-0200 or visit www.MarriottTheatre.com.
Peace. Love. Trust.