It's the turn of the 20th century. The world is changing and anything is possible. "Ragtime," set in the volatile melting pot of New York City, weaves together three distinctly American stories -- that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant, and a daring African-American musician. The Pennington Players presents this haunting, powerful musical on Fridays and Saturdays, June 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays, June 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. at Mercer County Community College's Kelsey Theatre. Kelsey Theatre is conveniently located on the college's West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on June 4.
Based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow and the Tony Award-winning book for the musical by Terrence McNally, "Ragtime" offers a tapestry of Americana, fusing historical figures such as J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman and Harry Houdini with the interconnected, fictional tales of three very different families. Mother is the matriarch of a wealthy Protestant family in New Rochelle, NY; Tateh is a Latvian Jewish immigrant; and Coalhouse Walker, Jr. is a young musician from Harlem. Brought together by circumstance, these characters find themselves united by courage, compassion and a belief in the promise of the future.
Opening on Broadway in 1998, "Ragtime" ran for two years and recently enjoyed a critically acclaimed Broadway revival. The Tony Award-winning musical score, by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, skillfully mixes the genres of ragtime, marches, gospel, and more, captured in such exuberant numbers as the title song, "Ragtime," the vaudeville number "Crime of the Century," the mesmerizing "Wheels of a Dream," and the touching "Sarah Brown Eyes."
Featuring a vibrant cast of 37, the show stars Vicky Czarnik, of Hopewell, as Mother; Brian Meltzer, of Pennington, as Tateh; and Kyrus, of Hamilton, as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. Also starring are Michael Schiumo, of Clarksburg, as Father; Williams Kamps, of Burlington, as Younger Brother; Matthew Blazejewski, of Trenton, as Little Boy; Salena Qureshi, of Columbus, as Tateh's Little Girl; and Cathryn Hardy, of Matawan, as Sarah.
Other featured cast members include Wayne Irons, of Princeton, as Grandfather; Michaela Alyse Tomcho, of Hamilton, as Evelyn Nesbitt; Shawn Doremus, of Philadelphia, PA, as Harry Houdini; Laurie Gougher, of Newtown, PA, as Emma Goldman; Lynn Baskin, of Lambertville, as Booker T. Washington; Alan Naidoff, of Princeton, as J.P. Morgan; Christopher Kamps, of Marlton, as Henry Ford; and Tom Bessellieu, of Lawrenceville, as Willie Conklin. Members of the ensemble play various roles throughout the production including Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, firemen, policemen, factory workers, immigrants, vaudeville dancers, and more.
The production is directed by Frank Ferrara, with musical direction by Shannon Ferrara and choreography by Nicole Farina-Machin.
Tickets are $16 for adults; $14 for seniors, and $12 for students and children. Free parking is available next to the theater. Tickets may be purchased online at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible. For a complete listing of adult and children's events, visit the Kelsey website.
Lynn Baskin and Kyrus Westcott