The Musical of the Century! WBT Ragtime revival is The Rage!Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 By: John Bailey Source: CNR STAGE DOOR
Director John Fanelli and Set Designer Steve Loftus takes us back to the future with clever use of an arched set and revolving stage that simulates assembly lines in Detroit, the Polo Grounds, a court room, docksides. We even have a model T Ford. While choregrapher Greg Gramham has created ensemble numbers that do not look like dances they actually move the plot. And move it does. In a musical of this length and breadth the scenes never lag, you never yawn during songs that take you by the heart and soul. The audience was enthralled, brought to tears, warmed, shocked, they connected with the characters through the magical book of Ahrens & Flaherty put E.L. Doctorow’s novel on the stage.
The musical explores how prejudice against blacks and immigrants and denial of justice from by the suburban community of New Rochelle results in tragedy that turns Coalhouse, the ragtime musician into a violent activist.
FaTye, a fixture with Standing Ovation Studios, gives his best performance I have seen him do. When he reconciles with Sarah played by Brittany Johnson, his girl, who has taken refuge in a New Rochelle family home…their duet Wheels of a Dream warms the heart, and their chemistry delivers. The tragedy inflicted upon the couple tugs on your heart and will not be soon forgotten. Their second duet, Sarah Brown eyes gives breathing life to what two people mean to each other.
Joey Sanzaro plays Tateh, a Latvian immigrant with his daughter, delivers as believable a role in an ongoing cameo scenario I have seen in a long time. He is touching, tough, self-starting, showcasing the palette of skills demonstrated by the immigrants who came with nothing, and made something of themselves. You root for him. The heroine who is the other storyline in this massive juggling of historical themes that hit home today is Victoria Lauzan above whose diamond contralto puts the heartbeat into the “connectors” of the show (and believe me all the songs are good and connective). From her Goodbye My Love (to her husband who is leaving on a polar trip with Admiral