RAGTIME: Westchester Broadway Theater Delivers A Flawless Show

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 By: William Reynolds Source: White Plains Daily Voice

Often, when an event is highly publicized, it disappoints.  But, such is not the case with Standing Ovation Studios' production of "Ragtime: The Musical," that opened, recently, at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. The production goes beyond one's loftiest expectations.

Boasting a cast of 40 performers, Ragtime tells the story of three divergent families in the turn-of-the-century. The families, and their three backgrounds are as far apart, as one can imagine.  But, their quest was very much the same, and that was, to achieve the much sought after American Dream.

Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, the show tells the story of an upper-middle-class family, in nearby New Rochelle, a star-crossed Black couple, and a determined Latvian artist, who is eager to find his niche in the United States, for himself and his daughter.  We see the ingenious blending of fictional and historical characters throughout the show.  We meet industrialist Henry Ford, Black Civil Rights leader and educator Booker T. Washington,  renowned escape artist Harry Houdini, banker and philanthropist J.P. Morgan and anarchist Emma Goodman.

In the beginning, we see how these three families led their lives, coupled with their ingrained distrust and prejudice for others, of different races and ethnicities.

Fate intervenes when the matriarch (Victoria Lauzen), of Westchester's "Queen City,"  finds a newborn black baby boy in her garden.  With the help of the local authorities, the child's mother is found.  Rather than having the two taken away, the heroine of our story, boldly declares that she will house Sarah (Brittney Johnson) and her little boy.  Her action causes friction between her and her husband.  Very little is seen of the latter, as he accompanies Admiral Robert Peary on his historic exploration of the North Pole.

Meanwhile, Colehouse Walker Jr. (FaTye) happily entertains his way through the Harlem and Tin Pan Alley circuit