The Musical of the Century! WBT Ragtime revival is The Rage!

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 By: John Bailey Source: CNR STAGE DOOR

Strolling, tennis playing residents of New Rochelle, toiling immigrants, Negroes creating a new music, legends  J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Harry Houdini and anarchist Emma Goldman colliding together seamlessly, up close and personally, tragically and inspiring! Ragtime tells America’s story as touching, heart-breaking and as dramatic as it gets:

The sound of distant thunder Suddenly starting to climb…
It was the music Of something beginning, An era exploding,
A century spinning In riches and rags, And in rhythm and rhyme
The people called it Ragtime…Ragtime! Ragtime! Ragtime!

I have been reviewing shows at the Westchester Broadway Theatre for 14 years. The Standing Ovations Studios rambunctious, irreverent, in-your-face overwhelmer of a revival of the 1998 musical Ragtime , that officially opened Friday night in Elmsford is the best production WBT has ever presented that I have seen. Easily it is the most involving and emotionally connecting.

Ragtime gives theatre goers all this top-of-the-line 40-member cast has—right from the anthem Ragtime.  The anthem I quote above introduces the colors of America at the turn of the 19th century from white New Rochelle residents lofting tennis balls to immigrants from Latvia, Ireland, and Blacks up from the south from the Robber Barons and architects of America’s success to  all seeking success in America.  It never lets up on the audience from its hour and 20 minute first act to its 55 minute second act at rolls like an express train of emotions…it overwhelms with 32 songs—by the second time Broadway composing team of Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens who executed a 4-song  audition score for original producer Harold Prince and beat out 7 other  4-song writing teams to win