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    October 10, 2006
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Terrence McNally's Tony Award winning musical "Ragtime" to open Temple Theaters' 2006-07 season

Temple Theaters | Ragtime
“RAGTIME:” Featured cast members Griffin Back, Lauren Rooney and Noah Drew.
(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / University Photography)

The Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime,” playwright Terrence McNally’s adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s sweeping novel about the American experience at the turbulent beginning of the 20th century, will open Temple Theaters’ 2006-07 season with an Oct. 25-Nov. 4 run in Temple University’s Tomlinson Theater, 13th and Norris streets.


“It’s big,” said guest director Peter Reynolds, of the scope and scale of the production.  With its 47 cast members, 20-member pit orchestra and 100 students, faculty and craftspeople working in various capacities from voice coach to wardrobe dresser (of 100-plus costumes), it holds the distinction of being the biggest, most ambitious show ever undertaken by Temple Theaters.


A panoramic view of the country’s social upheaval in the first decades of the new century, “Ragtime” focuses on themes of discrimination, bigotry, injustice and the pursuit of the elusive American dream through the intersecting lives of three families:  one white and affluent from New Rochelle, one black and working class from Harlem and one Jewish immigrant lately arrived from eastern Europe.


When it opened on Broadway in 1998, New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley described the diverse social strata of its characters as “a melting pot whose ingredients remain unassimilated.”


Yet into the insulated world of wealthy, white New Rochelle enters Sarah, a young black woman with her child, and her lover Coalhouse Walker, a charismatic jazz musician fueled by a fiery pride.  Add to the mix Tateh, an immigrant pushcart artist and his motherless daughter, both literally just off the boat and desperately seeking to claim their stake in the land of opportunity.


“It’s very much about the frustrations of our past history in the United States and our hope for the future — a future that is yet to come, when who you are is totally determined by the person you are, not the color of your skin, not your ethnicity,” observed Reynolds. “This show gives us hope for the future.

Temple Theaters | Ragtime
“RAGTIME:” Featured cast members Gregory Fisher, Jr., and Chartel P. Findlater
(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / University Photography)

“It’s one of the most significant pieces of theater of the 20th century.”


With music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, “Ragtime” boasts 37 musical numbers — 20 in the first act — woven into a narrative that draws real-life historical figures into the dramatic action:  the illusionist Harry Houdini, vaudeville siren Evelyn Nesbit and activists Emma Goldman and Booker T. Washington.


“It is a difficult production to direct, because of its sheer size,” conceded Reynolds, who last season directed the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company” for Temple Theaters. 


“Flaherty and Ahrens are absolute favorites of mine, and this is their finest work.  I feel privileged, and thrilled, to have the opportunity to do it, and to be working with a team that has the know-how and the power to realize this production.”


Collaborating with Temple Theaters on “Ragtime” are Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance and the department of film and media arts, with support from the Provost’s Commission on the Arts.


Guest musical director for “Ragtime” is Kevin Casey, who has been musical director for numerous national tours, including “Miss Saigon” and “42nd Street.”  Choreographer is associate professor of theater Kathy Garrinella, and theater professor Daniel P. Boylen is set designer.  Costume design is by Marie Anne Chiment, with lighting design by John Stephen Hoey, senior lecturer and lecturer, respectively, in Temple’s department of theater.  Undergraduate theater major Leigh Adel-Arnold is sound designer for the production, and film and media arts alumnus Luke Schantz is media designer. 


A preview performance of Temple Theaters’ “Ragtime” on Wednesday, Oct. 25, is at 8 p.m. Opening night curtain on Thursday, Oct. 26, is at 7 p.m. Performances continue Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27 and 28, and Monday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 4, at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. The Nov. 1 performance is at 7 p.m., held in conjunction with the Diamond Club dinner series.

Tickets: $20.  Seniors, Temple employees and non-Temple students pay $15; free for Temple students with TUid and copy of current roster.  Tickets are available at the Liacouras Center Box Office, 1776 N. Broad St. (in person cash-only sales), online at www.liacourascenter.com or by phone at 1-888-OWLS-TIX.

On performance days, tickets are available one hour before curtain at the Tomlinson Theater box office.


For more information, call the Temple Theaters Information Line at  215-204-1122.

Editor’s Note to Media:  For review tickets, contact Patricia Allen, Temple Theaters marketing and public relations director, at 215-204-1334, or e-mail patallen@temple.edu

Read more about the actors:
Chartel P. Findlater as "Sarah" and Lauren Rooney as "Mother"


Harriet Goodheart




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