Podcast By Joel Markowitz
I love the musical Ragtime. I saw it in Toronto in its pre-Broadway run. I saw it on the opening night on Broadway and then returned 5 more times to see it again. In 2003, Toby’s-The Dinner Theatre of Columbia mounted a stupendous Helen Hayes Award winning production, and I saw it 5 times. The score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, to me, is the best score written for a musical in the last 15 years. The melodies are gorgeous, the lyrics are poetry.
We are a nation of immigrants who came to this country in search of success, equality, justice, and respect, and the yearning for a better life-The American Dream. The struggle(s) to create this better life, and the need to respect each other is what Ragtime is all about. For isn’t America a melting pot filled with Coalhouse Walkers, Sarahs, Tatehs and Mothers and Fathers?
When I arrived tonight on press night to see the new Toby’s production, I hoped for a miracle. Could Toby Orenstein come close to duplicating that incredible 2003, production which she directed in the round in Columbia, MD, here in the new Baltimore location on the proscenium stage?
The answer is Yes-and more!
The large thrust stage in Baltimore allows Toby’s to visually expand the stunning images that the 2003 production presented to its audiences in Columbia. The lighting and costumes are gorgeous and at times stunning. The cast is superb. The staging is clever. The orchestra is sensational, never once drowning out a singer or actor, and the production is very powerful and very emotional.
I hope you enjoy these interviews I conducted on September 10, 2006, from 10:15-11:15 PM, after the press night performance concluded. I interviewed Daniel McDonald (co-director with Toby Orenstein, who also plays Willie Conklin), Jason Fulmer (Tateh), Nancy Asendorf (Mother), David Bosley-Reynolds (Father), Kevin McAllister (Coalhouse Walker) and Ashley Parker (Sarah).
I want to thank these exhausted performers for schmoozing with me after performing the show twice today. It was a brave thing to do! Good luck to all of you!
Ragtime runs through November 12th at Toby’s The Dinner Theatre of Baltimore. For reservations, call (410) 649-1660