Ragtime (1996)

Compositeur: Stephen Flaherty •

Parolier: Lynn Ahrens •

Librettiste: Terrence MacNally •


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 1) Généralités: Histoire, Thèmes et Particularités

► Résumé

Set in the turn-of-the-20th century America, RAGTIME is the epric story of three very different families whose lives become dramatically intertwined . Chronicles of the journeys of a black man, a Jewish immigrant and an upper class family as they struggle to find their places in a rapidly changing America.

► Synopsis complet

In the early 20th century, three major groups are introduced: upper-class suburbanites (Father, Mother, Mother's Younger Brother, Edgar, and Grandfather), African-Americans (Coalhouse Walker, a piano player, and his lover, Sarah), and Eastern European immigrants (Tateh and his daughter, Little Girl). Historical celebrities figure in these characters' lives.

Act I
As Father leaves on a voyage with Admiral Robert Peary (Goodbye, My Love), his ship passes a ship of Jewish immigrants bearing Tateh and the Little Girl, which is arriving in America. Father worries that Tateh "hasn't a chance" in America, while Tateh thinks Father a fool for leaving, and Mother yearns to travel with Father (Journey On). Meanwhile, Evelyn Nesbit testifies in court (Crime of the Century) as Younger Brother watches. Mother unearths a newborn black baby buried alive (What Kind of Woman). The police inform Mother that Sarah, the baby's mother, will be tried for attempted murder and the baby placed in an orphanage. Mother takes responsibility for Sarah and the baby.

Arriving with the immigrants (A Shtetl Iz America), Tateh becomes a silhouette artist, wishing for "Success" but not achieving it. Tenement life is so difficult that the Little Girl is often ill, and Tateh plans to leave New York to find the life he dreamed of. In Harlem, Coalhouse Walker is a respected musician (His Name Was Coalhouse Walker). He still loves Sarah, even though she ran away from him, and resolves to win her back (Gettin' Ready Rag). He purchases a Model T as Henry Ford's workers praise industry ("Henry Ford"). Tateh and the Little Girl pass through New Rochelle as they leave New York City, where they encounter Mother and Edgar (Nothing Like the City) and Sarah sings to her baby (Your Daddy's Son), lamenting having left Coalhouse. She gave birth alone, frightened, and with extreme difficulty, which led her to unthinkingly bury her child. Coalhouse is looking for Sarah but she refuses to see him. He promises to return every Sunday until Sarah takes him back. After weeks, Mother and Coalhouse become well-acquainted (The CourtshipNew Music). Sarah finally forgives Coalhouse and they reunite. Sarah and Coalhouse dream of traveling America in their car once the baby is old enough (Wheels of a Dream).

As Coalhouse's car becomes a symbol of their freedom and the promise of a future, Younger Brother inadvertently stumbles into an anarchist rally on "The Night That Goldman Spoke At Union Square," and converts to the worker's cause. The rally turns into a riot. Meanwhile, another riot/strike is taking place at the textile factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts where Tateh now works. Tateh comforts the Little Girl with a flipbook of her ice-skating. A man sees the "movie book" and offers to buy it. Tateh realizes that he has invented a lucrative product (Gliding).

Returning home from a picnic, Coalhouse, Sarah, and the baby are stopped by a squad of volunteer firemen led by the racist Will Conklin, who attempts to extort an illegal toll from Coalhouse. Coalhouse threatens to find a police officer, but the firemen destroy Coalhouse's car (The Trashing of the Car). Incensed, Coalhouse seeks vengeance (Justice) but white lawyers refuse to take him seriously, and black lawyers do not consider a case of vandalism to be an important civil rights suit. Believing that the vice-presidential candidate can help Coalhouse, Sarah decides to complain to him (President). As she approaches him, a passerby mistakes her for an assassin, and the Secret Service kills her. At Sarah's funeral, the white family, Coalhouse, and Sarah's friends, as well as Emma Goldman and Tateh, sing of their hope that one day there will be justice regardless of race ('Til We Reach That Day).

Acte II
Harry Houdini performs as Edgar watches (Harry Houdini, Master Escapist), but an explosion proves the scene a dream. Meanwhile, Coalhouse abandons his musical career and vows revenge (Coalhouse's Soliloquy), terrorizing New Rochelle and demanding that his car be restored with Will Conklin turned over to him (Coalhouse Demands). Many unrelated firemen are killed. Booker T. Washington condemns Coalhouse's actions; still, a group of young men joins him. As an escape, Father takes Edgar to a rowdy baseball game, expecting it to be "a civilized pastime" (What a Game). Coalhouse vows arson on every firehouse until his demands are met (Fire in the City).

Social workers attempt to take Sarah's baby from Mother's custody and the violence escalates, so Father temporarily moves his family to Atlantic City, where Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Houdini are performing (Atlantic City). Tateh, now a successful moviemaker under the alias Baron Ashkenazy (Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc), becomes a good friend to Mother and the family (Our Children), later admitting his true identity to Mother. Meanwhile, Coalhouse watches a couple dance (Harlem Pas de Deux) and remembers meeting Sarah (Sarah Brown Eyes). Younger Brother seeks out Coalhouse, anxious to join his cause. Emma Goldman explains that Younger Brother wishes he could tell Coalhouse about his desire for justice (He Wanted to Say). The authorities in New Rochelle contact Father, hoping that he will be able to get through to Coalhouse. Father leaves, telling Mother he hopes they will be able to return to their happy lives. Mother, however, realizes that she can never go "Back to Before".

Coalhouse and his group take over the Morgan Library, a museum containing irreplaceable cultural and historical treasures. Father suggests sending Booker T. Washington into the library to reason with Coalhouse. Washington convinces Coalhouse that he is leaving his son a legacy of murder and lies (Look What You've Done). Coalhouse surrenders peacefully under the condition that his men go free and he receives a fair trial. Coalhouse, realizing the error of his ways, tells his men to continue the fight through peaceful means (Make Them Hear You). Everyone leaves peacefully, but as Coalhouse leaves the library, he is killed by the police.

Edgar turns on a period film projector and announces that the era of Ragtime is over (Epilogue). Younger Brother escapes to Mexico to join Emiliano Zapata. Emma Goldman is deported, Booker T. Washington's Tuskeegee Institute becomes an institution of Black America, Evelyn Nesbit falls from the public eye, Harry Houdini has a mystical experience when Archduke Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated as he dangles over Times Square. Father is killed on the RMS Lusitania. After a year of mourning, Mother marries Tateh and moves to California with Edgar, the Little Girl, and Coalhouse Walker III. Tateh announces his ambitions for moviemaking. Coalhouse and Sarah's ghosts affirm their hope for the future (Wheels of a Dream: Reprise).


 2) Historique du musical

► La création de ce musical en quelques mots

Original Broadway production
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, the brainchild of Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky and his Livent Inc., the Toronto-production company he headed. The show had a pre-Broadway tryout in Los Angeles before opening on Broadway on January 18, 1998 as the first production in the newly renovated Ford Center for the Performing Arts (since renamed the Hilton Theatre, and now the Foxwoods Theatre). Directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, Ragtime ran for two years, closing on January 16, 2000, after 834 performances. The original cast included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Audra McDonald, who were all nominated for Tony Awards, and also included Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby and Lea Michele.

The production received mixed reviews, many critics noting that the dazzling production (with an $11 million budget, including fireworks and a working Model T automobile) overshadowed problems in the script. Ben Brantley's review in the New York Times was headlined "A diorama with nostalgia rampant." It led the 1998 Tony Awards with thirteen Tony Award nominations, but the 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.

2003 West End production
Following its European premiere in a concert performance at the Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre in 2002 (Which was later telecast on BBC Four), the musical was produced in the West End, London, by Sonia Friedman at the Piccadilly Theatre from 19 March 2003 - 14 June 2003. This production starred Maria Friedman in the role of Mother, for which she won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

2009 Broadway revival
A new production opened at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, on April 18, 2009, and ran through May 17, 2009, with direction and choreography by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. The production then moved to Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre, with previews beganning on October 23, 2009 and the show officially opened on November 15, 2009. The cast featured Stephanie Umoh (Sarah), Quentin Earl Darrington (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.), Christiane Noll (Mother), Robert Petkoff (Tateh), Bobby Steggert (Younger Brother), Donna Migliaccio (Emma Goldman) and Ron Bohmer (Father). The production was directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. This was the first Broadway revival of the musical and the first Broadway revival of any 1990s musical. The production opened to critical acclaim but closed on January 10, 2010 after 28 previews and 65 performances. This production had a large cast and orchestra, resulting in a significant weekly running cost that demanded the show be a popular success in order to prove financially worthwhile. "There had been rumors in recent weeks that the show would not be able to survive into early 2010; there was apparently not enough of an advance sale to encourage the producers." Despite the closing, the production received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of Musical, Best Direction, Best Actress in Musical, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical. One nomination, for Costume Design, was withdrawn.

 3) Productions du musical


Productions futures n'ayant pas encore débuté
Productions se jouant encore pour le moment
Anciennes Productions (de la plus ancienne à la plus récente)

 Ford Center for the Performing Arts (Toronto) (Original)
   Ragtime (1996-12-Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Toronto)

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
dim 08 décembre 1996dim 08 décembre 1996Inconnu

Mise en scène:
Commentaire: (suite)

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Foxwoods Theatre (Broadway) (Original Broadway) 1 an 12 mois
   Ragtime (1998-01-Hilton Theatre-Broadway) - 27 previews - 834 représentations

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
ven 26 décembre 1997dim 18 janvier 1998dim 16 janvier 2000

Mise en scène: Frank Galati •
Commentaire: (suite)

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Century II Convention Center Concert Hall (Wichita) (Revival)
   Ragtime (2002-08-Century II Convention Center Concert Hall-Witchita)

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
mer 07 août 2002mer 07 août 2002dim 11 août 2002

Mise en scène: ???? ???? •
Chorégraphie: ???? ???? •

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Piccadilly Theatre (Londres) (Original London) 2 mois 3 semaines * Echec *
   Ragtime (2003-03-Piccadilly Theatre-London) - 101 représentations

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
sam 08 mars 2003mer 19 mars 2003sam 14 juin 2003

Mise en scène: Stafford Arima •
Chorégraphie: Candace Jennings •
Avec: Maria Friedman (Mother),Graham Bickley (Tateh), Dave Willetts (Father), Kevyn Morrow (Coalhouse), Emma Jay Thomas (Sarah), Iain Davey (Henry Ford), Samuel James (Houdini), Mark McKerracher (JP Morgan), Susie McKenna (Emma Goldman), Rebecca Thornhill
(Evelyn Nesbit)
Commentaire: Based on the novel by E.L.Doctorow, this show opened in Toronto in 1966, and was re-staged the following year in Los Angeles. In January 1998 the show was given its Broadway production at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in a cast that included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie and Audra McDonald. It ran for 861 performances, winning many major awards, but closed suddenly in January 2000 when the producers were declared bankrupt. The London production, though highly praised, did not succeed, closing after just 101 performances.

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Paper Mill Playhouse (Milburn) (Revival) 1 mois 1 semaine
   Ragtime (2005-06-Paper Mill Playhouse-Milburn)

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
mer 08 juin 2005mer 08 juin 2005dim 17 juillet 2005

Mise en scène: Stafford Arima •

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington) (Revival) 4 semaines
   Ragtime (2009-04-Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts-Washington)

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
sam 18 avril 2009sam 18 avril 2009dim 17 mai 2009

Mise en scène: Marcia Milgrom Dodge •
Chorégraphie: Marcia Milgrom Dodge •

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Neil Simon Theatre (Broadway) (Revival) 1 mois 3 semaines
   Ragtime (2009-11-Neil Simon Theatre-Broadway) - 28 previews - 65 représentations

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
ven 23 octobre 2009dim 15 novembre 2009dim 10 janvier 2010

Mise en scène: Marcia Milgrom Dodge •
Chorégraphie: Marcia Milgrom Dodge •
Commentaire: (suite)

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Landor Theatre (Londres) (Revival) 1 mois
   Ragtime (2011-09-Landor Theatre-London)

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
jeu 01 septembre 2011mar 06 septembre 2011sam 08 octobre 2011

Mise en scène: Robert McWhir •
Chorégraphie: Matthew Gould •
Avec: Louise Lydell (Mother), John Barr (Tateh), Alexander Evans (Father), Kurt Kansley (Coalhouse), Rosalind James (Sarah), Leo Miles (Henry Ford), Craig Rhys Barlow (Houdini), Mitchell Mullen (JP Morgan), Judith Paris (Emma Goldman), Hollie O’Donoghue (Evelyn Nesbit), Graham Hoadly, Patsy Blower
Commentaire: This was a much-praised and powerful revival - once again proving that many “big-scale” musicals can be adapted into smaller spaces without losing any impact, though, of course, several critics pointed out that the lack of a full orchestra does represent a considerable loss.

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>

 Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park (Londres) (Revival) 3 mois 1 semaine
   Ragtime (2012-05-Open Air Theatre Regent's Park-London) - 10 previews - 52 représentations

Première Preview: Première: Dernière:
ven 18 mai 2012lun 28 mai 2012sam 08 septembre 2012

Mise en scène: Timothy Sheader •
Chorégraphie: Javier De Frutos •
Avec: Ensemble - Jamal Andreas
Harry Houdini - Stephane Anelli
Little Boy - Fin Banks
Coalhouse Walker - Rolan Bell
Father - David Birrell
Ensemble - Louise Bowden
Evelyn Nesbit - Katie Brayben
Little Girl - Lily Burgering
Emma Goldman - Tamsin Carroll
J. P. Morgan - Anthony Clegg
Mother - Rosalie Craig
Little Boy - Rory Fraser
Ensemble - Hayley Gallivan
Ensemble - Shimi Goodman
Little Boy - Ewan Harris
Little Girl - Lila Heller
Younger Brother - Harry Hepple
Ensemble - Waylon Jacobs
Ensemble - Kurt Kansley
Sarah - Claudia Kariuki
Willie Conklin - Joshua Lacey
Ensemble Mireia - Mambo-Bokele
Tateh John - Marquez
Ensemble - Sandra Marvin
Booker T. Washington - Sophia Nomvete
Little Girl - Oriana Pooles
Ensemble - Corinna Powlesland
Ensemble - Caroline Rovina
Henry Ford - Carl Sanderson
Grandfather - Jo Servi
Ensemble - Lucy St Louis
Ensemble - Tom Woods

  Plus d'infos sur cette production >>>


 4) Détails: Chansons, Rôles et Commentaires

► Liste des chansons

Act I
Prologue: Ragtime – Company
"Goodbye, My Love" – Mother
"Journey On" – Tateh, Mother and Father
"The Crime of the Century" ‡ – Evelyn Nesbit and Company
"What Kind of Woman" – Mother
"A Shtetl iz Amereke" – Company
"Success" – Tateh, J.P. Morgan, Harry Houdini and Company
"His Name Was Coalhouse Walker" – Coalhouse and Company
"Gettin' Ready Rag" – Coalhouse and Company
"Henry Ford" ‡ – Henry Ford, Coalhouse and Company
"Nothing Like the City" – Tateh, Little Girl, Mother and Little Boy
"Your Daddy's Son" – Sarah
"The Courtship" – Mother and Company
"New Music" – Mother, Father, Younger Brother, Coalhouse and Sarah
"Wheels of a Dream" – Coalhouse and Sarah
"The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square" ‡ – Emma Goldman, Younger Brother and Company
"Gliding" – Tateh
"The Trashing of the Car" – Orchestra
"Justice" – Coalhouse and Company
"President" – Sarah
"Till We Reach That Day" – Company

Act II
Entr'acte – Orchestra
"Harry Houdini, Master Escapist" ≠ – Harry Houdini and Little Boy
"Coalhouse's Soliloquy" – Coalhouse
"Coalhouse Demands" – Booker T. Washington and Company
"What a Game" – Father, Little Boy and Company
"Fire in the City" – Orchestra
"Atlantic City" ‡ – Company
"Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc." – Tateh
"Our Children" – Mother and Tateh
"Harlem Nightclub" – Orchestra
"Sarah Brown Eyes" – Coalhouse and Sarah
"He Wanted to Say" ‡ – Younger Brother, Emma Goldman and Company
"Back to Before" – Mother
"Look What You've Done" – Booker T Washington and Company
"Make Them Hear You" – Coalhouse
Epilogue: Ragtime / "Wheels of a Dream" (reprise) – Coalhouse, Sarah and Company

‡ shortened in the 2009 revival
≠ excised from the 2009 revival

► Liste des rôles

Mother's Younger Brother
Little Boy (Edgar)

Little Girl

Coalhouse Walker, Jr.

Evelyn Nesbit*
Harry Houdini*
Henry Ford*
Sarah's Friend
J.P. Morgan*
Booker T. Washington*
Willy Conklin
Emma Goldman*
Stanford White*
Harry K. Thaw*
Robert Peary*

*Historical Characters

► Quelques remarques...

Ragtime requires a large instrumentation of around 20 or so people. The original Broadway production had twenty-six musicians. The instrumentation requires three keyboards, a bass player, drums and percussion (with drums doubling on the second percussion part), banjo doubling on guitars, two trumpets, two horns, trombone and bass trombone, tuba, four woodwind players, and strings. The first woodwind player doubles on flute and piccolo, second woodwind player doubles English horn and oboe, third on B-flat and E-flat clarinet, and fourth on bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, and soprano sax. The first trumpet part also doubles on flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet. In the original West End production, the fourth woodwind part and bass trombone parts were removed. The 2009 revival switched the doublings for the second and fourth woodwind parts. The fourth woodwind part in the original Broadway production had doublings for flute, bass clarinet, soprano sax, and alto sax.


 5) Multimedia on-line

► Vidéos

Ragtime (1998-01-Hilton Theatre-Broadway) - L'original Broadway Cast aux Tony Awards

Qualité: *** Intérêt: *** Langue: Anglais Durée: 00:04:15

Ragtime (2009-11-Neil Simon Theatre-Broadway) - Extraits

Reportage publicitaire avec de nombreux extraits

Qualité: **** Intérêt: *** Langue: Anglais Durée: 00:02:01

Ragtime (2012-05-Open Air Theatre Regent's Park-London) - Trailer

Trailer de cette très belle version du musical en plein air

Qualité: ***** Intérêt: *** Langue: Anglais Durée: 00:01:13