Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ragtime Rings Through at the Wilmington Drama League

The Wilmington Drama League (WDL) presents the inspirational 90’s musical Ragtime by Terrence McNally (book), Sthephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). Although the Americana musical is nearly three hours, director Jeff Santoro keeps the pace flowing by projecting still and moving images on a screen at the back of the stage, while populating it with some of the finest voices in the Delaware theater community.

The musical, set on the east coast during the early 1900’s, revolves around three sects of people, a white upper-middle class family, a group of African-Americans, and newly arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe.  While the family copes with having to change with the “new” American ways of the early 20th century, the African-Americans continue to face racism and prejudice, and the immigrants struggle with making a new life in a new country –- all are striving to achieve the American Dream.

The show is full of moving anthems - “Wheels of a Dream,” “Till We Reach That Day,” and “Make Them Hear You” – that inspire hope for a better future. The show also features the beautiful ballads, “Goodbye My Love” and “Your Daddy’s Son,” as well as the rousing dance numbers, “Gettin’ Ready Rag” and “What a Game.” Mr. Flaherty’s music and Ms. Ahrens’s lyrics take you on an emotional journey, at times you want to cry, while other times you want to stand up and cheer!

The show boasts many standout performances by the large cast, including Jim Smith as Father, the patriarch of the upper-middle class family, and Barbara Hartzell as Mother, the matriarch of the family. Both performers give subtle, but effective performances. Genevieve Van-Catledge as Sarah, the African-American woman who, along with her infant, finds shelter with the family, and Darryl Thompson as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Sarah’s suitor, bring down the house with their strong, soaring voices. Patrick Ruegsegger as Tateh, a Jewish artist who immigrated to the United States with his daughter; Sharon Ruegsegger, as anarchist, Emma Goldman; and Alfred Lance as African-American Civil Rights Leader, Booker T. Washington (the show features many notables from the early 20th century) give commanding performances in their respected roles.

Ragtime closes February 10. To order tickets, call 302.764.1172 or visit www.wilmingtondramaleague.org    

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