“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 9th January will feature a 20th Anniversary tribute to Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s “Ragtime”, (based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow), from the 1998 original Broadway cast recording starring Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Peter Friedman, Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Lea Michele, Lynnette Perry, Steven Sutcliffe, Jim Corti, Mike O’Carroll, Larry Daggett, Alex Strange and Tommy Hollis.
The musical had its world premiere in Toronto, where it opened at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts (later renamed the Toronto Centre for the Arts) on December 8, 1996, produced by Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky and his Livent Inc., the Toronto-production company he headed. The US premiere was at the Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles in June 1997. The musical opened on Broadway on January 18, 1998 as the first production in the newly opened Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, Ragtime closed on January 16, 2000 after 834 performances and 27 previews. The original cast included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Audra McDonald, who were all nominated for Tony Awards.
The production received mixed reviews, with critics noting that the dazzling physical production (with a $10 million budget, including fireworks and a working Model T automobile) overshadowed problems in the script. Ben Brantley’s review in was headlined “A diorama with nostalgia rampant.” It led the 1998 Tony Awards with thirteen Tony Award nominations, but Disney’s The Lion King won as Best Musical. The musical won awards for Best Featured Actress (McDonald), Original Score, Book, and Orchestrations. According to The New York Times, “The chief competition for The Lion King was Ragtime, a lavish musical.” The New York Times also noted that “The season was an artistic success as well, creating one of the most competitive Tony contests in years, with a battle in almost every category capped by the titanic struggle for the best musical award between Ragtime with 13 nominations and The Lion King with 11.” The Broadway production was not financially successful, and some Broadway insiders consider its lavish production to have been the financial “undoing” of Livent.
Based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. Historical figures including Harry Houdini, J. P. Morgan and Henry Ford are represented in the stories.
The programme will feature ab introduction by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist Peter Filichia.
The broadcast will go “to air” between 9 – 11 p.m. EDT local Melbourne time; (= 10 a.m. – 12 noon GMT in Britain; = 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. NZDT; = 5 – 7 a.m. EST New York time; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angeles time.)
For those listening in via the Internet on 96.5 Inner FM’s website the webpage link for the Inner FM Web Radio player is http://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at www.innerfm.org.au and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.