I love a good Broadway musical – giant cast, elaborate sets, singing and dancing, a great big old-fashioned show of a show. We are lucky in Hampton Roads that Seven Venues brings Broadway (and lots more) to us every year at the beautiful Chrysler Hall.
This weekend, one of the standards of Broadway comes to Norfolk for the first time. “Ragtime the Musical” makes its Norfolk premiere on November 20 – 21 as part of the Broadway In Norfolk series.
“Ragtime the Musical” debuted on Broadway in 1998 and was nominated for 13 Tony Awards that year. It was revived on Broadway in 2009 and was nominated for 9 Tonys. The musical is based on the quirky and complicated book, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, one of the most important novelists of the 20th century. Doctorow was known for weaving historical characters into his novels, long before Forrest Gump was ever conceived. Henry Ford, Matthew Henson, Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, and more figures from the Progressive Era of the United States will make their appearance on stage.
The Progressive Era took place around the turn of the 20th Century and was a time of social activism and political reform. Set in and around New York City, “Ragtime the Musical” tells the story of an upper-class woman, a Jewish immigrant and a Harlem musician, all woven together with historical figures and important events of the time. There is singing and dancing involved in all of this. Ragtime music was part of the soundtrack of the time.
Vaudeville Theater, with magic, acrobats, animals and divas, was the place to go on a Saturday night.
They don’t make a lot of musicals like this any more. People wonder why revivals are so popular these days. There is the nostalgia factor. I saw “Camelot” on stage when I was a kid. It started my love of the Broadway musical. I was thrilled when it came to Norfolk last year. These giant, over the top productions are huge undertakings. First, someone has to write an original play or adapt a complicated novel for the stage. Then, someone else has to write dialogue and 30 to 40 songs. Imagine all the cooperation and collaboration. There is choreography, set design, costumes and probably a thousand other things I know nothing about, but I can appreciate the cost and effort.
It all has to make sense, be entertaining, and touch you in some way, just like all art.
Ragtime the Musical promises to deliver all that and more. For more information and how to get tickets, go to here.