RAGTIME Eyes Full, Immersive Ellis Island Production in 2017
Ellis Island got a little more Broadway last night, as Ragtime was presented in an invitation-only, one-night-only event, narrated by two-time Tony Award winner and original Ragtime Broadway cast member Brian Stokes Mitchell and directed by Sammi Cannold . The concert starred two-time Tony Award nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along, Motown) as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Olivier Award winner Laura Michelle Kelly (Finding Neverland, Mary Poppins) as Mother, Emmy Award winner Michael Park (Dear Evan Hansen, Tuck Everlasting) as Father, acclaimed stage and television star Andy Mientus (Spring Awakening, Les Miserables) as Younger Brother, Shaina Taub (Hadestown, Old Hats) as Emma Goldman, Aisha Jackson (Waitress, Beautiful) as Sarah, and Robert Petkoff (All The Way, Ragtime) reprising his 2009 Broadway revival role of Tateh.
The concert presentation might have wrapped up last night, but that doesn't mean it's the end of Ragtime. Event presenter Suzanne Friedman has an eye towards an immersive, full production of the acclaimed American musical on Ellis Island in 2017.
Ragtime is a portrait of a turning point in American history as it follows three families in pursuit of the American dream at the start of the 20th century. In Ragtime, we meet an upper-class family from New Rochelle that must grapple with their notions of class and agency, we meet determined Latvian immigrants who come to New York through the gateway of Ellis Island, and we meet a daring young couple from Harlem who must combat racism and bigotry to ensure a bright future for their son. In a site-specific re-telling of this classic musical, these stories will be told in Ellis Island's historic Registry Room, through which 12 million immigrants passed between 1892 and 1954. The question of what it means to be and become American is just as relevant now as it was in 1902, and in asking that question in the very room where so many of our ancestors discovered the answer, Ragtime on Ellis Island offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring history to life in new ways. The evening's experience includes sailing to and from Ellis Island by private ferry, and an opportunity to explore Ellis Island's museum exhibits following the performance.
Ragtime was developed in Toronto in 1996 with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow. The show first opened on Broadway in 1998, starring Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman, and Judy Kaye. Garnering 13 Tony nominations and 4 wins, the show went on tour in the U.S. before moving to London, where it was nominated for 8 Olivier Awards. The 2009 Broadway revival received 6 Tony nominations.
Ragtime is sponsored by The New York Foundation for the Arts, and is produced by special arrangement with Music Theatre International and Actors' Equity Association.
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