It’s All About Progress and Change in RAGTIME

by Lila Achuff

Ronald Jones as Coalhouse and Colleen Scott as Sarah in Delaware All State Theater's RAGTIME, running in Wilmington DE through June 25.

If you’re trying to decide whether you should see RAGTIME this coming weekend at the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, DE, allow me to encourage you to think “YES”! Even though you might have seen it on Broadway about ten years ago, you have yet to enjoy this Delaware All-State Theatre production. In fact, I could easily call them “All-Stars” – 70 of the finest theatre students in Delaware’s schools, from elementary through high school. And, oh, yes, save your Playbill for future reference because someone in that cast is going to “make it big” some day … check ‘em off after the show and see if your prediction doesn’t come true down the road. I shall purposely not mention any names in particular because they’re all super! Trust me on that!

This historical musical was based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1974 novel of the same name. This could be a quick read before or after you see the show for your own comparison. The setting takes place around the turn-of-the century America in New York; RAGTIME is peppered with real historical figures, such as Henry T. Ford, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan, Houdini, and more. From 1897-1918, “ragtime” (“ragged time”, a syncopated rhythm) was then a popular type of piano music influenced by jazz. There are three distinct groups of fictional characters: an upper-class white family, a family of Jewish immigrants, and an urban black family. Like a spider spins its web, so these families become interlaced and interlocked with each other as the story goes. What I found rather interesting was the audience’s reaction to what was occurring on stage… they were clapping, cheering, and getting involved. One can tell that we’ve come a long way in race relations but outside events tell us that we’re not totally “there” yet.

There are a few items I’d like to mention before I sign off. First, the show seemed to move along at a nice pace. Some of the talent on stage was simply stupendous! The choreography was fabulous! The baseball number… out of the park! Great job!

Until the next show…

Book by Terrence McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynne Ahrens
June 17-25, 2011
Delaware All-State Theatre
at the DuPont Theatre
1007 N. Market Street
Wilmington DE

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