Ragtime Shines on Westchester Broadway Theatre Stage

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 By: Colette Connolly Source: The Examiner

Standing Ovations Studios, under the direction of John Fanelli, has taken on its biggest production ever with the staging of "Ragtime the Musical," which opened at the Westchester Braodway Theatre Feb. 27. 

The show, based on the 1975 E.L. Doctorow novel "Ragtime," is the quintessential immigrant story, beautifully retold on the Elsmford stage with the help of powerful voice and dance talent that matches anything you'll find on a Broadway.   It tells the tale of three distinct socio-ecinomic group living in turn-of-the-century New York between 1904 and 1906 and thier struggle to adapt. The story depicts characters lining in very different places, New Rochelle, Harlem, and the immigrant leting pot of the Lower East Side. 

"This is a very large piece of musical theare in so many ways," said Fanelli, who has spent the past 17 years directing, teaching and creating programs for young people in the theatre arts. 

"Between its powerful and varied musical score, large cast across three ethnic groups, set designs that include a working Model-T automobile and an intricate story anchored to historical events and figures of its time, we are rasing the bar of our local audiennces, which is both exciting and challenging." 

The main characters incldue Tateh (Joey Sanzaro), who plays the Latvian immigrant expecting to find riches in America, but then sees his dreams quickly dashed; Coalhous Walker Jr., (FaTye), a black Harlem piano player who is trying to fit into a society that is prejudiced against him, but still hoping to build a life with Sarah and their young son; and the upper class New Rochelle family, led by Mother and Father (Vicotria Lazun and Craig Waletzko), who are fearful of the social change that is taking place around them.

The stage comes alive in the opening scene with the company's large cast making their introductions and performing the title song that is also the prologue. It is then that the audience gets a hint of what's to come in this large, sweeping show, a production that includes a cast of 40, including local, national and New York City talent. 

Elements of early 20th century culture are woven throughout the musical, including the vaudeville theater scenes featuring the famous beauty Evelyn Nesbitt (Cali Laspina) and Henry Ford's assembly line, where the first cars are being produced. 

Amoung the powerful voices that emanate from this grand production are Fayte,