I like this description of the musical Ragtime “racism, poverty and trashed dreams are all elements in the overlapping stories of an affluent Wasp family, a black piano player who is denied justice, and a Latvian Jewish immigrant artist turned movie pioneer.” I would like to point out we have made great strides in social justice over the last one hundred and twenty years, but unfortunately, “stride” remains a piano musical term connected to the piano and ragtime/jazz and not to real life living.
Ragtime is a musical style that evolved around the piano keyboard and was most popular between 1895 and 1919. What stands out was its syncopated rhythm. The genre would have been pretty much lost except for its resurgence as the background music for the 1973 film, The Sting staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The time frame was 1936 after the popularity of ragtime had given way to more modern blues, and jazz. Two of my favorite ragtime pieces are the carefree by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall. Swipesy is a cakewalk . . . a dance number. Solace is a sad tune by Scott Joplin. Swipesy was be a great intro to Ragtime and Solace would be a great closing number. Ragtime the book was quite probably written on the popularity coattails of The Sting.
Solace by Scott Joplin – youtube.com/watch?v=OKNHp-daefk
Swipesy by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall – youtube.com/watch?v=JSw6UEzRMyw
Lakewood Playhouse has done a great job with a minimalistic set and a near constant fog. I liked the roll-up screen, which worked well for a shadow affect as well as unveiling. There was not a lot of high-kicking done by the women in proper behavior and their long skirts. The voices were good and reached out to each of us nicely.
A surprise for us was Karen Christensen (Emma Goldman/Fireman/Ensemble) who played an immigrant landing in America. Usually, she waves us in past the COVID check-in line at Tacoma Little Theatre. I should have figured out that she was an actress as well.
I felt like doing a “boo . . . hiss” for the Richy Rich character and a cheer for the constant adjusting and figuring out what will sell by the Jewish immigrant father played by Chap Wolff. The first time we saw Chap in action was as the character Max Bialystok in The Producers at Lakewood Playhouse. It wasn’t until almost at the end of the first act that I realized he was carrying around a script in his hand. He was replacing the lead character. We saw The Producers three times I think . . . and brought grandchildren. Since then we have seen Chap at CenterStage and Lakewood Playhouse (Broadway Bound). He always does a great job.
What we found really touching was the love that a baby caused to both black and white adult characters. I hope that’s something that will carry on and carry on and carry on until we accept everyone for what they are in and out of a theatrical production.
Victoria Webb waited two years to finally grant her wish of directing Ragtime. We had seen her production of Calendar Girls at Tacoma Little Theatre and Twelve Angry Men at Lakewood Playhouse . . . and enjoyed them both.
We had a nice combination of singing and dancing with Music Director Debbie Armstrong and Choreographer Indeah Harris.
The show runs through the 26th.
Get your tickets here – tix6.centerstageticketing.com/sites/lakewoodplayhouse/events.php