Racial injustice, discrimination against immigrants, and the trials and tribulations of the upper crust of society. Sounds like something out of today’s headlines? Actually, it’s all in the plot of Ragtime – The Musical, now playing at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL.
It takes place more than a hundred years ago, and is based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow. The lives of several fictional characters are intertwined with real people, such as Henry Ford, Booker T. Washington, and Harry Houdini, who represent the rich, the poor, the immigrant class, and the black community.
The production has a large cast, and a lot of moving parts on the stage, including a replica Ford Model T, driven by Coalhouse Walker, Jr., a professional musician, who is victimized by racism. His inability to obtain justice through the legal system (surprise) move much of the plot in the play. Nathaniel Stampley, in the role of Colehouse delivers an outstanding and impassioned performance. He is a veteran on Chicago, West End, and Broadway. Not to be outdone, Kathy Voytko shines as well in the role of Mother lends an operatic quality to her performance. No surprise, since she has appeared with symphonies across the country. Benjamin Magnuson makes his Marriott debut as Tateh, the immigrant who wants to give his daughter a better life.
Patrick Scott McDermott is a total scene stealer as The Little Boy, delivering zingers and prodding the adults to explain the complexities of “modern” life, as modern as the turn of the twentieth century could be.
The rest of the cast and crew are phenomenal, and even at two and half hours of running time, the musical had great pacing.
I’m always amazed how the Marriott puts on their theatre in the square. Go see this one. It runs through March 18, 2018.
Our rating: A home run, in the deadball era.