La Mirada Presents YOU'RE A GRAND OLD RAG

By: Jun. 12, 2019
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La Mirada Presents YOU'RE A GRAND OLD RAG

La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts presents a fascinating, stirring look at patriotism - and what it means to be an American - with YOU'RE A GRAND OLD RAG, aptly named thanks to the famous Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, celebrating the music of the legendary George M. Cohan on June 30that 2 PM. Recognized even today as the iconic Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cohan became synonymous with Americanism through his rousing songs "Over There," "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Give My Regards to Broadway" and more. Today, the national dialogue brings this Congressional Gold Medal winner front and center. "As bands all across the U.S. play his songs this 4thof July, it's timely to ask: are we in concert - or in conflict - with the brand of patriotism Cohan symbolized and wrote about?" says La Mirada's Artistic Director, BT McNicholl.

Using Cohan's original orchestrations, The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra will feature Colin Pritchard singing beloved and rare toe-tapping tunes as featured on the group's hit Cohan album produced by Grammy-award winner Judith Smith.

The afternoon's celebration expands to include:

  • A melodic and insightful pre-show concert and presentation on American immigration and assimilation as seen through Cohan's "flag plays" by musicologist Elizabeth Titrington Craft, based on her brilliant Harvard dissertation.
  • A rare post-show talk-back with Cohan's great granddaughter
  • Unforgettable footage - not seen in 80 years -- of Cohan himself performing his own songs!
  • The world premiere of new Cohan songs from his final, unproduced musical
  • An extensive lobby display of highly-prized Cohan sheet music, souvenir programs, vintage photos and more from the exclusive collection of Cohan expert Dave Collins.

Recognizing the unique excitement around the event, many of the nation's leading Cohan historians are traveling from all parts the country to celebrate the life and music of this titan of the American Theatre and popular song who was actually born on the 4thof July!

THE PARAGON RAGTIME ORCHESTRA is the world's only year-round, professional ensemble re-creating "America's Original Music" - the syncopated sounds of early musical theater, silent cinema, and vintage dance. The PRO came into being as the result of Rick Benjamin's 1985 discovery of thousands of turn-of-the-century orchestra scores once belonging to Victrola recording star Arthur Pryor. In 1988, the Orchestra made its formal debut at Alice Tully Hall - the first concert ever presented at Lincoln Center by such an ensemble. Since then PRO has appeared at hundreds of leading arts venues, including the Ravinia Festival, the Brucknerhaus (Austria), the Smithsonian Institution, Chautauqua, Brucknerhaus (Austria), the New York 92nd Street Y, and the American Dance Festival. Since 1989, the Walt Disney Company has relied on the Orchestra's recordings for the outdoor theme music heard at Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland, Disney World, and Disneyland/Paris. Over the years, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has been heard on the soundtracks of several motion pictures and television programs. The Orchestra's audio and video recordings have been widely praised and considered instrumental in rekindling interest in America's rich traditions of theater, cinema, and dance orchestra music.

George M. Cohan (July 4, 1878 - November 5, 1942), was the Lin Manuel Miranda of his day: an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and theatrical producer. Cohan began his career as a child, performing with his parents and sister in a vaudeville act known as "The Four Cohans." Beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904, he wrote, composed, produced, and appeared in more than three dozen Broadway musicals. Cohan published more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including the standards "Over There", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "The Yankee Doodle Boy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag." As a composer, he was one of the early members of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He displayed remarkable theatrical longevity, continuing to perform as a headline artist until 1940. Known in the decade before World War I as "the man who owned Broadway", he is considered the father of American musical comedy. His life and music were depicted in the classic film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) for which James Cagney won an Oscar portraying Cohan, and the musical George M! (1968) starring Joel Grey. In 1936, in recognition of his songs' contribution to the American Spirit, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Cohan - the first artist ever to receive such an honor, which had previously been reserved for war heroes. A statue of Cohan in Times Square-the only statue of an actor on Broadway -was dedicated by Oscar Hammerstein II and commemorates Cohan's contributions to American musical theatre.

YOU'RE A GRAND OLD RAG will have one performance on Sunday, June 30that 2 p.m. at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd in La Mirada.

Tickets range from $10 - $27 (prices subject to change) and can be purchased at La Mirada Theatre's website, or by calling the La Mirada Theatre Box Office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310.

Student and group discounts are available. LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.