By: Patrick Christiano
A sensational staging of Ragtime the Musical, directed by Will Pomerantz, opened at Bay Street in Sag Harbor. The 1998 Tony award winner, the finale of Bay Street Theater’s 2022 Mainstage Summer Season, is glorious in every way possible.
August 10, 2022: Ragtime the Musical, the eagerly awaited finale to Bay Street Theater’s Mainstage Summer Season is a resounding success in every way possible. This is a scaled down gem, lavish with song and emotion. Will Pomerantz, Associate Artistic Director of Bay Street Theater, who re-envisioned a smashing production of Evita for the theater several seasons ago, may have topped himself. Using much of that same team and an extraordinary cast, Pomerantz and all have captured the emotional heart of the sweeping tale and in doing so have given the musical an authenticity that soars to the rafters of the intimate 299 seat theater. An amazing achievement.
Adapted by Terrence McNally (Tony Winner for Book) from E.L. Doctorow’s classic 1975 novel and boasting a glorious score, with music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens the musical captures the chaos of the American experience at the turn of the 20th century, where the existing turmoil exposed class, race, and religious conflicts that feel eerily relevant today.
The plot cleverly blends the stories of three families into a compelling melodrama filled with notorious characters from the period like, Emma Goldman (Victoria Huston-Elem), Evelyn Nesbit (Cathryn Wake), Harry Houdini and more, but at the core is Mother (Lora Lee Gayer), a wealthy, white woman from New Rochelle. While her husband, referred to in the text as Father (Daniel Jenkins), is traveling with Admiral Peary to the North Pole, Mother rescues a young Black woman, Sarah (Kyrie Courter) and her newborn baby by bringing them into her home to live with her, an act that Father, undoubtedly, would not have approved. The baby’s father is Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Derrick Davis), a Harlem Ragtime piano player, a smooth talker, and a stylish dresser, who wants to marry Sarah and comes courting every Sunday driving a flashy model T Ford. And every Sunday the racist local firefighters harass him.
Around the same time Tateh (Zachary Prince), a Jewish immigrant, arrives in America with his daughter (Sonnie Betts), in search of the American dream. On his journey to manifesting that dream, he will cross paths with Mother and their lives will become intertwined. Also running through the plot is Mother’s Younger Brother (Harrison Bryan) and his infatuation with the “Girl on the Red Velvet Swing,” Evelyn Nesbit, and his anger at political corruption.
What is so wonderful about the musical is how beautifully the three stores, subplots, and extraneous characters are interweaved into a high stakes melodrama., where scene after scene culminates in an emotional song form the expansive score (over twenty in total) each one gloriously sung and staged.
The cast is sublime. There are 18 actors, when the model calls for 60, all of them doubling, tripling and I think some quadrupling. And not only are all the leads superlative vocalist, but they are also accomplished actors with emotional depth. As a result, the evening accumulates continually with beautifully filled moments that take your breath away and the power of the story resonates more deeply. This marvelous evening is a cautionary warning, history is repeating itself.
Ragtime is the third production of Bay Street’s 2022 Summer Season and will play through August 28. Single seat tickets are available starting at $49.99. To purchase, call the Box Office at 631 725 9500 11 a.m. to showtime daily or go to http://www.baystreet.org/calendar/
The production stars Kyrie Courter (Sarah); Derrick Davis (Coalhouse); Lora Lee Gayer (Mother); Zachary Prince (Tateh); Daniel Jenkins (Father); Harrison Bryan (Younger Brother); Davon Williams (Booker T. Washington); Clyde Voce (Matthew Henson); Rachel Parker (Sarah’s Friend); Taylor Jackson (Harlem Woman); Cathryn Wake (Evelyn Nesbit); Victoria Huston-Elem (Emma Goldman); Ryan M. Hunt (Willie Conklin); Cecelia Ticktin (Kathleen), Will Hantz (The Boy); Sonnie Betts (The Girl); and Ian Lowe and Brianna Kaleen as Swings.
The creative team includes; Christopher Grant and Lauren Grant (Co-Choreographers); James Bassi (Musical Director); Rick Sordelet (Fight Director); Anna Louizos (Scenic Designer); Hunter Kaczorowski (Costume Designer); Meghan O’Beirne (Associate Costume Designer); Mike Billings (Lighting Designer); Dalton Hamilton (Assistant Lighting Designer / Programmer); Jon Weston (Sound Designer); John Millerd (Associate Sound Designer); Brian C. Staton (Projection Designer); Andrew Diaz (Props Designer); Ryan Touhey (Orchestrator); Tommy Kurzman (Hair/Makeup Designer); James FitzSimmons (Production Stage Manager); and Christine Catti (Assistant Stage Manager).
Bay Street Theater
1 Bay St, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Photography: Lenny Stucker
631 725-9500 For Tickets Click Here
Click Here For Opening Night Photos By: Barry Gordin