Westchester Broadway Theater Presents

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 7:00 am By: Jerry Eimbinder Source: http://bronxville.patch.com/groups/diningentertain

 Like Titanic, now nearing the end of its run at this theater, Ragtime reminds the audience through song-vocalizing and story-telling of society's impositions and imperfections in earlier times. Ragtime is a class of music. It originated just prior to the year 1900, played by African-American bands. Influenced by marches, its popularity grew during the early years of the twentieth century and, in turn, it was influential in the development of early jazz.

Based on a 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, the musical moves back and forth between three overlapping subplots, each involving a markedly unique set of characters from widely differing backgrounds: An affluent New Rochelle family,  African-Americans in New York's Harlem, and Jewish immigrants to the new land.

The original production opened on Broadway in mid-January, 1998, running for one day shy of two years, lasting for 834 performances, and capturing thirteen Tony Award nominations. It won for four categories: Best Original Score, Best Book, Best Orchestrations and Best Featured Actress (given to Audra McDonald). The version of Ragtime at WBT is directed by John J. Fanelli, possessor of a track record of successful play staging at this theater including last year's In the Heights, and two 2012 revivals, The Music Man and Big River. He also produced Peter Pan in 2010.  

The play's cast of 40 includes four local actors:

  • FaTye of Dobbs Ferry who plays Coalhouse Walker, Jr., a Harlem musician 
  • Joey Sanzaro of Pleasantville is Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia
  • Todd Ritch, raised in Dobb Ferry, is Younger Brother (New Rochelle family)
  • Cali LaSpina of Scarsdale plays Vaudevillian Evelyn Nesbitt 

Fanelli is the founder and artistic director of Standing Ovation Studios, based in Armonk. He helped establish an international network of theater programs for young people and was an artistic director for the Times Square Group based in New York City. In this position, he developed and implemented educational theater programs for New York City's public schools. 
In 2006, he launched the non-profit Lighthouse Youth Theatre in Thornwood, and followed by creating Standing Ovation Studio to train youngsters and adults in the performing arts. He has a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

Standing Ovation Studios provides instruction in and awareness of the performing arts: acting; dance including theater, ballet and tap; voice; and music making (such as piano and guitar playing). Classes are held for skill-building subjects such as improvisation, audition preparation, playwriting and more. Four summer musicals are staged by the company's summer theater workshops in New York and Connecticut.

Stephan Flaherty and Terrance McNally's Broadway musical "Ragtime" will open at theWestchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford on Thursday, February 27, 2014; the play continues through May 4.