BY GEORGE J. DACRE
The music, the drama, the energy is all there in this old time story of the birth of Ragtime in an age where discrimination between whites and blacks was a deeply ingrained part of the culture.
Rockland Community College students do this show just right with a very large and talented cast and great music by an onstage orchestra depicting the early days of the twentieth century. Set in New York City, this show tells the stories of a determined Jewish immigrant, a somewhat stifled upper class wife, and a talented Harlem musician.
The musical is based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow about an upper-class Protestant family from New Rochelle, a black family from Harlem, and a Jewish immigrant and his daughter. Stephen Flaherty’s music, Lynn Abrams’ lyrics, and book by Terrence McNutly take Doctorow’s story all the way and the RCC cast headed by Ryan McNeill as Coalhouse Walker, the Harlem musician, and his love interest Sarah (Yasmyn Osman) sing and dance their love story through good and bad times.
Tateh, the immigrant (played by Joe Cobb) almost steals the show with his singing, dancing, and acting. There are seventy-five members in the cast, and they move on and off the stage in the various musical numbers and acts in a rhythmic sequence that shows the discipline and involvement of these college kids.
Ragtime has an assortment of figures of the time mixed in the story including Harry Houdini, Admiral Peary, Booker T. Washington, Evelyn Nesbit (the girl on the swing), Harry K. Thaw, Henry Ford, and J.P.Morgan. Add in the Chorines and Sob Sisters, Coalhouse’s Gang, The People of Harlem and New Rochelle and the Vigil Women and you have Ragtime.
Directed and Produced by Patty Maloney-Titland and Christopher Plummer with Musical Director Helen Conrad, “Ragtime” as produced this past weekend at RCC was just very, very good.
I rate it Four Out Of Four Stars!!!!!!