Site-Specific RAGTIME ON ELLIS ISLAND To Hold Developmental Sound Workshop This March

By: Feb. 21, 2018
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Site-Specific RAGTIME ON ELLIS ISLAND To Hold Developmental Sound Workshop This March This March, the creative team behind Ragtime on Ellis Island will be developing new use of in-ear monitoring (IEM) technology in a Sound Workshop, meant to explore its potential use for audiences in a fully realized site-specific production.

LA-based sound designer Nick Tipp is collaborating with the team behind Ragtime on Ellis Island to develop use of headphone technology to allow for control over the acoustics of the Registry Room on Ellis Island. The workshop will explore an innovative method of live performance wherein the singers, musicians, and sound effects are live-mixed into wireless headphones worn by each audience member. The goal of the workshop is to develop a sensory experience of the piece that is the perfect match for Ellis Island.

Director Sammi Cannold says, "The process of creating our concert in 2016 inspired us to dig deeper to find new ways to experience Ragtime on Ellis Island. In assessing the acoustic and spatial dynamics of the historic Ellis Island Registry Room, we're exploring an approach to sound design that would allow for the best possible sonic experience in the space and, more importantly, will unlock some rather exciting aesthetic possibilities. While the workshop is of course focused on material from Ragtime, our team is also excited by the potential applications of this approach to other site-specific musicals in locations where it's impossible to use traditional sound systems."

Ragtime on Ellis Island is accepting donations on their website to make this workshop possible. Cannold says, "The response we've received to Ragtime on Ellis over the past two years has been tremendous and our concert in 2016 wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of donors, passionate about telling such a powerful and timely story in such a meaningful site. And now, support at this phase of the project is more valuable than ever. We believe that this workshop will not only make a future production of Ragtime on Ellis Island possible, but that it will also allow for exciting and game-changing innovations for outdoor and site-specific performance more broadly."

Nick Tipp is a recording engineer, mixer, and audio/video producer in Los Angeles. He specializes in live recording, concerts, both acoustic and amplified, as well as live tracking in studio. With over 20 years of experience recording bands, ensembles, and artists in an incredibly varied array of spaces, Tipp seeks to create unique and inspiring recording environments - both physical and sonic. Just a few of the musicians that Nick Tipp has worked with include Weezer, Passion Pit, The Mountain Goats, the Black Keys, the Decemberists, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the LA Opera, the LA Philharmonic, and more.

In addition to Tipp, the creative team is led by director Sammi Cannold (Violet on a bus, assoc. director Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) with Music Direction by Madeline Smith (Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat, conductor for Waitress), Choreography by Emily Maltby (assoc. choreographer First Daughter Suite at The Public). The workshop will be produced by Sarah Flamm (Waterwell's Hamlet, Blueprint Specials), and Jessica Kahkoska (Discount Ghost Stories). Casting by Ally Kiley (Telsey and Company). The team also includes associate director Allyson Tucker (OBC Ragtime), associate choreographer Annelise Baker (Merry Widow at the Met) and assistant director Lindsey Ruggles (asst. director Violet on a bus).

Ragtime on Ellis Island received a developmental concert in the Registry Room of Ellis Island on August 8, 2016. The concert featured narration by Brian Stokes Mitchell (Shuffle Along, Man of La Mancha), Laura Michelle Kelly (Finding Neverland, Mary Poppins) as Mother, Two-time Tony Award nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along, Motown) as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Emmy Award winner Michael Park (Dear Evan Hansen, Tuck Everlasting) as Father, Shaina Taub (Hadestown, Old Hats) as Emma Goldman, Andy Mientus (Spring Awakening, Les Miserables) as Younger Brother, Aisha Jackson (Frozen, Waitress) as Sarah, and Robert Petkoff (All The Way, Ragtime) as Tateh. Casting for this workshop has not been announced.

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.

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.

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