Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw
Ragtime has got to be up there with Oklahoma! as one of the most undeniably American musicals of all time, and it has finally come home to Southern California. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s musical made its U.S. premiere at the now-demolished Shubert Theatre in Century City in 1997, before opening on Broadway the following year.
Ellen Dostal – BroadwayWorld
How do you scale down an epic musical like RAGTIME for a smaller stage and a different time? When it opened at the Shubert Theatre in Century City in 1997, the cast numbered nearly fifty, the same as it would for its Broadway debut later that year. The stage was enormous and the production filled every inch of it.
For the revival at Pasadena Playhouse, director David Lee has a different spin. Instead of going big, he goes smaller – not tiny, but everything is scaled down by half to fit the Playhouse. Using twenty actors who cover multiple roles on a more compact, compartmentalized set, he offers us a view of early American history from the storage boxes of a museum. (Think Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum franchise but serious.)
Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen
“Make them hear you” is one of the most well-known refrains in Ragtime, and the current production at the Pasadena Playhouse is in fact demanding to be heard—and it is well worth listening to.
The first major production of the musical in Los Angeles in over twenty years, it is one of the most ambitious efforts the Pasadena Playhouse has ever put forth. There are moments when the limitations of a somewhat smaller space show—some scenes feel crowded, and necessary use of not only the width of the stage but the height of it leads to some awkward sightlines. But ultimately, the magic of this beautiful score and story are able to mostly mask any difficulties.
Rob Stevens – Haines His Way
In 1975, E.L. Doctorow published Ragtime, his work of historical fiction set in and around New York City during the early years of the 20th Century. He intermingled the stories of three distinct groups of people–upper Middle Class white Americans in New Rochelle, African Americans in Harlem and Eastern European immigrants in the slums of the lower East Side.
Now running through March 3