Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ragtime at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.


I went to a dress rehearsal for Ragtime the Musical at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts presented by Encore! Cast Performing Arts. Entering through the stage door I got lost in the maze of backstage hallways and found myself backstage for Pecha Kucha. The whole audience was holding up glow sticks while Bob Kodzis stood on stage inspiring them to follow their dreams. What an amazing sketch opportunity.  I had gone to the wrong theater and so had to backtrack. Ragtime is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty. The music includes marches, cakewalks, gospel and ragtime. 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.

Coalhouse Walker Jr. dreamed of finding his lost love Sarah. When he discovers she is living with a rich white family in New Rochelle, he immediately goes to the home. Sarah refuses to see him. Despite this, he returns each week to play Ragtime on the family piano in hopes that someday she will come down to see him. Hearing Coalhouse's music, Sarah finally descends to forgive him, and the lovers were joyfully reunited.

 The musical includes cameos by many of New York City's historical greats, like Houdini an JP Morgan. The rich and poor mingle in the vast city. Tateh , a Jewish immigrant sells paper cut out silhouette to scrape by with his young daughter. One day he creates a stack of silhouettes, that when flipped come to life by moving. Someone offers to buy the book for a whole dollar. Tateh vows to create more moving pictures. The next one he would sell for two dollars.

Ticket sales on July 9th and 10th, Benefited USO Central Florida. The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to our nation. That mission is accomplished on a daily basis thanks to the dedication and generosity of the American people. Whether it is a commitment of time from a volunteer or a contribution of dollars from a donor, USO Central Florida turns this generosity into centers, programs and services that reach troops across 14 counties in Central Florida.

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