FRIDAY 5 (+1): RAGTIME's Rachel Jones and Allison Hall

FRIDAY 5 (+1): RAGTIME's Rachel Jones and Allison Hall
Will Waters, Sedrie Orantes, Brandon Hoyt, Ryan Chavez, Sam Hagler and
McKinley Shannon star in The Center for the Arts' production of Ragtime.
- photo by Ashleigh Newnes

Ragtime, the stirring Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty-Terrance McNally musical about American society at the turn of the 20th century - based on the E. L. Doctorow novel of the same name - premieres on the Murfreesboro stage of the Center for the Arts, directed by Rachel Jones and starring a cast of Middle Tennessee's favorite performers.

At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing - and anything is possible. Set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together, that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician, united by their courage, compassion, and belief in the promise of the future. Together, they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America.

Director Rachel Jones and her leading lady, Allison Hall (who plays Mother) took time from a hectic tech week filled with rehearsals and pre-opening night preparations to answer our Friday 5 (+1) queries in order to entice you to come see their show. We suggest you read about them first, then make your reservations for the show post-haste!

FRIDAY 5 (+1): RAGTIME's Rachel Jones and Allison HallRachel Jones (Director)

What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theatre? I was in the ensemble of South Pacific and Bye Bye, Birdie in high school, and didn't come back to it until I was cast as Velma VonTussle in Riverdale High School's inaugural alumni show of Hairspray in 2014. So much fun! I have been going non-stop ever since!

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I love chewy SweetTarts candy, and I always have a bag of them lying around to eat while I'm getting ready. I also diffuse essential oils in the dressing room! I usually use a blend to both calm, center and energize as well!

What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? When I was in Tarzan two years ago at the Arts Center of Cannon County, Allison (Hall) was starting to sing "You'll be in my heart" and it was a beautiful, quiet moment. Well, I had an upper respiratory infection for opening weekend (of course!) and as I was lying there on stage, a sleepy l'il ape, the cough started. And it was that horrible tickle in your throat that makes it impossible to hold in. I'm stifling it as best I can, eyes watering like crazy, seizure like spasms as I'm doing my best to just not let it out but be discreet like "nothing to see here!" I seriously debated running off stage! That song could not end soon enough! We had cloth gloves on and I had doused them in peppermint oil so I was discreetly trying to inhale the oil and wipe my face at the same time. It was terrible. So mortifying, but oh-so-funny to look back on now!

Who is your theatrical crush? Gerold Oliver and Devin Bowles. Local guys who I've had the immense pleasure to work with. I directed Devin in Sister Act earlier this year at Cannon County and every single time "Eddie" came on stage, I could not look away! We all pretty much fangirled. Gerold is just simply divine. He's perfection on and off stage, and the best part about him is that he doesn't know he's as good as he is. No ego, no drama...He just does what he loves and excels at it. They are just top notch, talented and wonderful young men who embody professionalism and what it really means to be amazing human beings. They are old enough to be my sons, but they get on stage and I'm always blown away. I adore those guys!!

What is your dream role? I would love to be Donna in Mamma Mia! with my daughter Holly Adams as Sophie. We have shared the stage together several times, but that would be a dream show for me to do with her.

Why should people come to see Ragtime? Ragtime highlights issues that are still around today, and it just goes to show that time is truly irrelevant. We get transported to turn of the century New York, where it's viewed as the land of opportunity. Some our characters find that is just the opposite as they face racism, poverty, social injustices, and unfairness when all they want is to have the same thing as everyone else. We get to see how anger, resentment and ignorance changes and shapes our characters as the show goes on. A lot of what our characters go through in 1906 mimics what current day society faces as well. Cause and effect. The American Dream. Come and see how they did it in 1906, and you'll realize we aren't so different after all. We all deserve love, acceptance, kindness, fairness, decency and respect. We are all human.

Come see Ragtime because the cast has put in an incredible amount of work to bring a relevant and poignant story to life in the most beautiful way imaginable. You don't want to miss it! I couldn't be prouder of each and every one of them.

FRIDAY 5 (+1): RAGTIME's Rachel Jones and Allison HallAllison Hall (Mother)

What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? I remember having to dress up as a cow for a church nativity play as a very small child. Theatre wasn't something I really knew about when I was a kid. When I got to high school, I took a musical theatre course as an elective and fell in love! My first role was Miss Krumholtz in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I like relaxing before a show! I usually get a massage sometime during tech week to take away the stress of it all.

What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? During a production of Hairspray, I was playing Tracy and had to fall after getting hit with a dodgeball. I don't know if there was something on the stage that cut me or if I just fell really hard, but after I sat up I noticed blood dripping down my knee. We just kept going like it was normal!

Who is your theatrical crush? I think the entire cast of Ragtime can agree that our Coalhouse - Ryan Chavez Richmond - is pretty dreamy.

What is your dream role? I've been fortunate enough to get to play most of my dream roles over the past few years. Now that I'm older, I need someone to write Hairspray 2: Tracy Turnblad Turns 30!

Why should people come see Ragtime? The music and story of this show are absolutely beautiful. There are so many diverse characters and storylines that captivate you. Every audience member will be able to identify with at least one character and their struggles. You can't walk away from this show without being impacted and
moved.

FRIDAY 5 (+1): RAGTIME's Rachel Jones and Allison Hall

About the show Murfreesboro's Center for the Arts explores what it means to be an American with its production of Ragtime, running July 7-23. The Tony Award-winning musical with book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens is directed by Rachel Jones, a CFTA .

At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing - and anything is possible. Set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together, that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician, united by their courage, compassion, and belief in the promise of the future. Together, they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America.

"It is a very challenging show and it has pushed and stretched me to become better - artistically and personally," said Ryan Chavez, who plays Coalhouse Walker in the production. "Our country is divided in so many ways right now and the messages in this musical can easily relate to what is going on in the world today."

Opening night is Friday, July 7, where an exclusive season-ticket only event will be held in the art gallery prior to the show. Performances run Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, students, and military, and $11 for children.

Groups of 10 or more receive a $2 discount per ticket. Tickets are available by going to www.boroarts.org or by calling The Center's box office at (615) 904-2787. Center for the Arts is located at 110 W. College Street in Murfreesboro.




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